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The Lethbridge Research Station 



Cover picture 

A four-horse team at the Lethbridge 
Experimental Station about 1935. The horses 
were named Blue, Rock, Belle, and Doc. 
Photo courtesy of N. E. Kloppenborg. 


Alex Johnston 

Research Station, Lethbridge, Alberta 

The Lethbridge Research Station 1906 -1976 

On September 11 , 1908, Mr. W. Poland, farm 
foreman, went into Lethbridge to get a 
portable gasoline engine', a 20-horse 
International gasoline tractor engine. It was 
the first tractor on the Station. 

The 1976 farm 'team' -a 224-kW (300- 
horsepower), four-wheel-drive tractor with 
articulated frame steering. 

Research Branch 

Canada Department of Agriculture 

Historical Series No. 9 


Copies of this publication may be obtained from 





© Minister of Supply and Services Canada 1977 

Cat. No.: A21-25/1977 

ISBN 0-662-00691-7 


The Lethbridge Research Station, 6 

Early Agriculture and the Experimental Station, 8 

Beginning of the Experimental Station, 1 1 

World War I, 16 

The Twenties, 19 

The Dirty Thirties, 23 

World War II, 28 

Entomology, 32 

Postwar Expansion, 36 

The Manyberries Range Experiment Station, 40 

Amalgamation, 47 

The Sixties, 51 

The Seventies, 55 


Anyone undertaking to compile a history 
of an institution soon finds himself in debt 
to many individuals, particularly to its 
employees both past and present. I am 
grateful to the many who have replied to 
my letters, granted interviews, or taken time 
from busy schedules to answer my 

Although it is unfair to single out 
individuals, I must mention the help 
received from Dr. N. D. Holmes, who 
helped with the chapter on Entomology, 
and Mr. S. Smoliak, who wrote the chapter 
on the Manyberries Range Experiment 
Station. Mr. G. C. R. Croome, Station 
editor, and Mrs. J. M. Tomlinson, of the 
Scientific Editing Section in Ottawa, 
reviewed the manuscript and made many 
valuable suggestions. Mr. C. Halchuk of 
the Graphics Section in Ottawa designed 
and prepared the artwork for this history. 

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not 
acknowledge my indebtedness to Dr. J. E. 
Andrews, Director of the Lethbridge 
Research Station. Without his support and 
encouragement, this history would not have 
been written. 


Alex Johnston 
November 5, 1 976 


The Lethbridge Research Station, which 
has become the largest Station in the 
Research Branch of Agriculture Canada 
was established in 1 906 to provide much- 
needed technical information for the 
growing but economically unstable 
agricultural industry in southern Alberta. 
The Station' evolved, expanded, and was 
reorganized in response to the changing 
needs of that industry and as new scientific 
principles and disciplines were developed 
to serve a progressively more technical 
agriculture. In turn, the agricultural industry 
of southern Alberta expanded, evolved, and 
became more stable, more specialized, and 
more profitable as new technology was 
made available through research at the 

In addition to its internal growth and 
subdivision into specialized groups, the 
Station has taken on its present form as a 
result of amalgamation or absorption of 
previously independent units serving 
agriculture. An important amalgamation 
occurred in 1959 when the Experimental 
Farm, which was involved largely with 
production research on crops and animals, 
was joined by the Science Service 
laboratories, which were concerned with 
the more basic sciences and with research 
on protection of crops and animals from 
diseases and insect pests. This made it 
possible to reorganize research, in the late 
sixties, into mission-oriented programs. 
Groups of scientists in complementary 
fields of specialization could then apply 
their research expertise toward a common 
goal or agricultural product. Another very 
important amalgamation or, at least, close 
association has been planned and will take 
place after the new office-laboratory 
complex has been completed at the 
Research Station in late 1976. In this 
building, offices and research facilities are 
provided not only for the scientists of the 
Research Station, but also for staff of the 
Production and Marketing Branch of 
Agriculture Canada and the Regional and 
District staffs of the Extension Division and 
Irrigation Division of Alberta Agriculture. 
This will enable close association and 
cooperation among all government 
agencies serving agriculture in southern 
Alberta and allow the people who use their 
services to find them all at one location. It 
should improve efficiency and reduce the 
time lag between the development of new 
technology and its application by the 
agricultural industry. 

Dr. T. H. Anstey, Director of the Lethbridge 
Research Station, 1959-1969. 

Throughout the 70 years of its service to 
agriculture, the Research Station has made 
its results available to other scientists, to 
agrologists, to agribusiness, and to farmers 
through technical and semitechnical 
publications, bulletins, press releases, 
speeches, demonstrations, and committee 
discussions. The newest technology and 
the unique discoveries of one generation 
are superseded by even newer technology 
and the unique discoveries of the next. 
These contributions slowly fade from 
memory as scientists and leaders retire 
and are replaced by others. The younger 
scientists may fail to realize that their 
modern, highly specialized research is only 
possible because it has been built on the 
technology of the past. Similarly, when the 
major farm problems of the past, such as 
drought, erosion, insects, and diseases, 
have been overcome through the 
application of new technology developed 
by research, they, too, fade from memory 
as new generations of farmers and 
agriculturists replace those of an earlier 
day. Yet we should remember the 
problems that have faced agriculture during 
the past 70 years, during its development 
from a rather primitive to a highly 
specialized and productive industry. We 
should recognize the research that has 

Dr. J. E. Andrews, Director of the Lethbridge 
Research Station, 1969 to present. 

greatly assisted its evolution, and the 
scientists and other staff who have 
contributed to the new technology. For this 
reason, Dr. Alex Johnston, who has 
attained recognition as a scientist and 
historian, was asked to write a brief history 
of the Lethbridge Research Station. The 
chapters that follow provide a historical 
record for future generations and will be 
interesting reading for those who have 
been involved in or wish to understand the 
development of agriculture in Alberta. 

J. E. Andrews, Director 
Research Station 
Lethbridge, Alta. 
November 12, 1976 

Chapter 1. The Lethbridge Research Station 

In 1 976, the Research Station of the 
Canada Department of Agriculture at 
Lethbridge was the largest regional 
agricultural research establishment in 
Canada in terms of staff, area and budget. 
With its substations at Onefour 
(Manyberries), Vauxhall, and Stavely, it was 
at least twice as large as any other Station. 
The Station itself occupied 436 hectares, or 
1 ,077 acres, of dry and irrigated land on the 
eastern outskirts of the City of Lethbridge. 
It employed about 300 people during the 
winter months and 30 more during the 
summer months. About 80 of those people 
were highly trained professionals, and 
about 50 of them had the degree of Ph.D. 
The Station's appropriation for 1 976 was 
$5.6 million, $4.4 million of which was 
spent directly on wages and salaries. 

Research work at the Station was 
organized into six sections and was divided 
among 29 programs. The programs were 
further divided into about 1 50 projects, the 
level at which the actual research work 
was done. A project was not complete until 
results had been made available to 
interested people. Therefore, the Station 
published about 80 research papers a year, 
many of which were of interest to 
agriculturists throughout the world. The 
Station also published about 40 
miscellaneous papers annually, mostly 
bulletins, semitechnical papers, and popular 
articles of regional or national interest. 
Various press releases, weekly letters, 
newspaper or magazine articles, personal 
contacts, radio talks, and television 
appearances took the results of research 
directly to the man on the land. 

The objective of the Lethbridge 
Research Station has been, and is, to serve 
agriculture. But its aim has always been to 
help the urban dweller also. Station 
programs, in addition to a host of studies 
on soils, crops, insects, livestock, and 
poultry, included such subjects as 
ornamental plants, turfgrasses, pollution, 
sewage disposal, and pesticide residues. 

The Lethbridge Research Station began 
as a small branch station of the 
Experimental Farms Service. It grew 
because it was located in southwestern 
Alberta in what is probably the most 
diversified agricultural area in Canada. This 
can be explained if we examine the climate 
and geography of the western plains and 
relate them to southwestern Alberta. 

The Prairie region contains the largest 
tract of agricultural land in Canada about 
53 million hectares (ha), or 131 million 
acres. The land is made up of 30.3 million 

ha (75 million acres) of cropland and 
summerfallow, 17.8 million ha (44 million 
acres) of native rangeland, and about 4.8 
million ha (12 million acres) of pasture and 
hay land. The region supported about 
7,739,000 beef cattle, 325,000 sheep, and 
1 75,000 horses. 

This is the dry region of settled Canada 
but only in recent decades have farmers 
managed to develop a distinctive dryland 
agriculture. Two factors are of great 
importance to crop production: First most 
of the rain falls during the growing season 
of crops so that farmers can usually 
produce good harvests in regions with as 
little as 355 mm (14 inches) of precipitation 
a year. Secondly, summer temperatures 
are higher than in regions to the east and 
west, so that plants receive the warmth 
they need for growth. But the summer 
growing season is rather short and 
successful crops must be able to mature 
early; this emphasizes the common 
cereals. Winters tend to be long and cold. 
Some of the cereal and forage crops may 
winterkill, and most cereals can be 
damaged by spring and fall frosts. Even the 
Chinook winds, welcome as they bring 
warm weather in winter, may cause 
hardship to plants and animals during the 
winter months and lead to droughts during 
the summer. 

On the map, the Prairie region looks 
roughly like three distorted triangles, set 
one within the other, with their base on the 
border between Canada and the United 

The innermost triangle, the semiarid 
Brown soil zone, is the driest of the three. 
Its annual precipitation averages about 355 
mm (14 inches). It is here that the rain 
shadow effect' of the Rocky Mountains is 
most apparent. The mountains take 
moisture from the air as it comes from the 
Pacific Ocean, so that areas 240 km (150 
miles) east of the mountain front are 
almost deserts and receive only 280 to 305 
mm (11 to 12 inches) of precipitation a 
year. It is a region of extremes. At Medicine 
Hat. records show a range in temperature 
from -46 C (-51 F) in January to 42 C 
(108 F) in July, and in annual precipitation 
from 150 mm (6 inches) in 1910 to 710 
mm (28 inches) in 1927. The frost-free 
period ranges from 1 10 to 140 days. 
Because the whole region has been 
scoured by glacial ice. it has an immature 
drainage pattern: tens of thousands of 
temporary ponds or sloughs' collect water, 
which evaporates and often leaves the 
white alkali that is so characteristic of the 

BROWN (soil zone) 
DARK BROWN (soil zone) 
BLACK (soil zone) 



dry plains. The original prairie vegetation, 
much of which is still used for grazing, is 
classed as Mixed Prairie and is a complex 
mixture of shortgrasses, midgrasses, forbs, 
and shrubs. Except along the rivers and 
among sand dunes, trees do not grow 
naturally in the Brown soil zone. 

The second triangle contains the Dark 
Brown soil zone. The climate is less 
extreme than in the Brown soil zone; 
annual precipitation averages about 405 
mm (16 inches), and the growing season 
ranges from 1 00 to 1 20 days. The original 
prairie vegetation of the Dark Brown soil 
zone is classed as Mixed Prairie also, but it 
contains more midgrasses and tallgrasses 
than does the Brown soil zone. 

The irrigated lands of Western Canada 
are located mainly in the Brown and Dark 
Brown soil zones, because irrigation is 
most successful where the difference 
between natural rainfall and the maximum 
water requirement of crops is greatest. 
Together, the Brown and Dark Brown soil 
zones more or less make up the region 
known as Palliser's Triangle. 

The third triangle is the Black soil zone. 
Annual precipitation ranges from 455 to 
510 mm (18 to 20 inches) and the growing 

season from 90 to 1 1 days. The original 
prairie vegetation is classed as Fescue 
Grassland and is a complex mixture of 
tallgrasses, forbs, shrubs, and trees. The 
area has been protected from prairie fires 
since settlement, so the cover of trees has 
increased throughout the Black soil zone, 
and there is a distinctive mosaic of prairie 
patches and aspen groves called the 
Parkland. Beyond the Black soil zone lie 
the mountains to the west and the Boreal 
Forest to the north. 

The impact of geography and climate on 
the Lethbridge Research Station may be 
summed up in this way: 

• The Station is located in an area of 
irrigated and dryland agriculture. 

• About 55% of the region is rangeland, 
where livestock production is the rule; 
and 45% is cultivated land, where many 
different crops are grown. 

• The Station is in the transition zone 
between the Brown soils of the semiarid 
plains and the Black soils of the moister 
foothills, between the Mixed Prairie of 
southeastern Alberta and the Fescue 
Grassland - Aspen Parkland to the west 
and north. 

So/7 zones of the prairie region of Western 

The Station is in the region where the 
fairly level plains of Western Canada give 
way to the Rocky Mountains. 
Added to the variety of agricultural 
problems that all these characteristics 
imply are short summers of intense 
agricultural activity and long winters of 
agricultural dormancy. 

Chapter 2. Early Agriculture and the Experimental Station 


Elliott T. Gait, General Manager of the 
Alberta Railway and Irrigation Company, 
who donated the land that made up the 
original Lethbridge Experimental Station. 

The Lethbridge Research Station was 
organized in 1 959, when several smaller 
institutions were amalgamated. These were 
the Dominion Experimental Station, 
Lethbridge, founded in 1 906; the Dominion 
Entomological Laboratory, Lethbridge, 
founded in 1913; the Livestock Insect 
Laboratory, Lethbridge, founded in 1 946; 
and the Science Service Laboratory, 
Lethbridge, founded in 1949. Later 
additions to the Station were the Dominion 
Range Experiment Station, Manyberries, 
founded in 1927, and the Prairie Farm 
Rehabilitation Administration Drainage 
Division, Vauxhall, founded in 1 949. The 
Dominion Experimental Station was the 
oldest of these institutions and, hence, 
formed the bond that tends to unify the 
history of the Research Station. 

Why was Lethbridge chosen in 1 906 as 
the site for a new Dominion Experimental 

Part of the answer lies in the history of 
prairie settlement. The prairies were settled 
at roughly the same time in two general 
areas. In one, a farming front became 
established in Manitoba and gradually 
advanced westward. In the other, a 
ranching front became established in the 
foothills of the Rocky Mountains and 
moved slowly eastward. Farming, which 
started in earnest about 1871, was based 
on the methods practiced in Ontario. But, 
as time was to show, the techniques suited 
to the forest-oriented culture and the 645- 
to 805-mm (40- to 50-inch) rainfall zones 
of the humid east were not suited to the 
semiarid to subhumid climate of the 
western plains. Ranching, which started in 
earnest about 1 880, was developed from 
the methods practiced in the plains of the 
United States. Ranching techniques were 
fairly well suited to conditions in the 
southern part of the region, but they were 
to change radically when the railways were 
built and the region was opened to 

The coal resources of the Lethbridge 
area were being exploited. Elliott T. Gait, 
General Manager of the coal company, 
began by building river steamers and 
barges to take the newly mined coal to 
Medicine Hat. This was not successful, so 
the company built a narrow-gauge railway 
between the two points, and later another 
to Great Falls, Montana. As a reward for 
their railway-building activities, the Gaits 
received about 450 000 ha (1 million acres) 
in land grants; the land had to be sold to 
settlers if a profit was to be realized. 
Therefore, Elliott Gait organized an 

irrigation company to bring water to the 
semiarid plains. 

Canals were built and water arrived at 
Lethbridge on September 4, 1 900. Irrigation 
had come to the area and the Gaits could 
begin to sell some of the land that they had 
received as grants. Mormons had already 
settled at Cardston, Magrath, and Stirling 
and were in a position to take advantage of 
the new irrigation technique. Other 
immigrants bought land and settled the 
area immediately southeast of Lethbridge. 

It was a new kind of agriculture, even to 
the Mormon settlers who had previous 
experience of irrigated farming in Utah. 
Much new information was needed; many 
problems had to be solved. As early as 
January 10, 1901, an editorial appeared in 
The Lethbridge News and said in part: An 
Experimental Irrigated Farm is Wanted. 
There are experimental farms in various 
portions of the Dominion but the results 
obtained will be entirely inapplicable to the 
irrigated portions of Alberta.' (Alberta 
became a provisional district of the 
Northwest Territories in 1 882 and a 
province in 1905.) 

Previously, in 1 884, a Select Committee 
of the House of Commons had been 
appointed to inquire into the best means of 
encouraging and developing the 
agricultural interests of Canada. The next 
year, one of its recommendations was 
implemented when steps were taken to set 
up an Experimental Farms system. In 1 886. 
Parliament passed an Act providing for a 
Central Experimental Farm at Ottawa and 
four branch farms across the country. In 
1 888. two experimental farms were located 
on the prairies, one at Brandon to serve the 
Province of Manitoba and one at Indian 
Head to serve what was then the 
Northwest Territories. 

The Irrigation Company at Lethbridge. 
reorganized as the Canadian North-West 
Irrigation Company, did what it could to 
provide reliable information to settlers. In 
March 1901, Manager Charles A. Magrath 
hired Professor William Harmon Fairfield. 
Superintendent of the Experiment Station, 
University of Wyoming, Laramie, to come to 
Lethbridge and operate a Model Farm. The 
farm was featured in The Lethbridge News 
of October 1, 1903. in an article that stated: 
The Model Farm was originally set apart 
by the Irrigation Company, shortly after its 
formation [in 1899], for the purpose of 
demonstrating the most up-to-date 
methods of irrigation and experimenting 
along lines that might prove useful to other 
settlers in the district. W. H. Fairfield of the 

Wyoming Experiment Station was put in 
charge with the assistance of his brother.' 

It was in 1903 that Mr. Fairfield made 
one of his most important contributions to 
western agriculture. He showed the 
farmers of the irrigated lands, and of the 
prairie region of Western Canada generally, 
how to grow alfalfa successfully. 

It is common knowledge now that alfalfa, 
a legume, can take nitrogen from the air 
and convert it to a form that plants can 
use. The process, known as nitrogen 
fixation, is accomplished for the alfalfa plant 
by bacteria that live in nodules on the 
roots. When Mr. Fairfield arrived in the 
area, he noticed that alfalfa did not do well, 
and he was unsuccessful in his attempts to 
grow it in 1 901 and 1 902. He wrote to 
Laramie and asked for a bag of soil from 
an established alfalfa field to be sent to him 
at Lethbridge. This was done, and the 
Wyoming soil with its nitrogen-fixing 
bacteria was scattered carefully on a small 
field newly planted with alfalfa on the 
model farm. The new stand was 
successful, and soil from the model farm 
was scattered, in turn, on other farm fields 
throughout the region. Soon the bacteria, 
which we now call Rhizobium, were present 
everywhere in soils of the irrigated areas of 
Alberta, and alfalfa culture was assured. 

Agitation for experimental farms 
continued. In March 1904, The Lethbridge 
News reported that '. . . the question of an 
experimental farm for Alberta is constantly 
cropping up at points farther north and 
resolutions are being forwarded to Ottawa 

asking for its location at different points.' 
The suggestion was made that it would be 
well for Lethbridge residents to keep their 
claim before the government. And in May, 
The Nor'West Farmer said: 'We wish that 
the Dominion Department of Agriculture 
could be induced to see what a splendid 
field for agricultural investigations exists in 
the irrigated sections of the Territories.' 

Throughout 1 905 and into 1 906, various 
towns advanced reasons as to why an 
experimental farm for southern Alberta 
should be located in their particular 
community. By this time, a large number of 
farmers had settled on dry farms in the 
south, and The Lethbridge News 
recognized that they needed help in solving 
problems just as much as farmers with 
irrigated land did. 

The town of Macleod (now Fort 
Macleod) wanted the new experimental 
farm, and at various times the editors of 
The Macleod Gazette and The Lethbridge 
News abused each other at length. In May 
1 905, The Lethbridge News reported: 'In an 
editorial blizzard of about a column's 
length, The Macleod Gazette goes after us 
for saying that Lethbridge is entitled to a 
government experimental farm. In the 
course of its pathetic pleadings for poor old 
Macleod [and] in order to prove that the 
Macleod district is just the place to 
experiment with irrigation, our 
contemporary adds, "There is only one 
place drier than Macleod and that isn't 
Lethbridge." We wonder where he means.' 
Later, Macleod's Agricultural Society 

drafted and circulated a petition and 
interviewed their Member of Parliament in 
an effort to get the experimental farm. 
Resentment reached a peak when The 
Macleod Gazette printed a blistering 
editorial two columns long, headed 
Government Neglect of Macleod', that 
went on to say: 'Our grounds for complaint 
are too numerous to mention but among 
them are: The proposed experimental farm 
which it is now generally admitted is going 
to Lethbridge, a place where everyone 
knows it will be absolutely useless and 
worthless to ninety percent of the farmers 
of southern Alberta, notwithstanding the 
foolish and silly statements of the 
Lethbridge papers to the contrary.' 

Medicine Hat followed the example of 
Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, and other 
places and sent a deputation to Ottawa to 
ask for the experimental farm. Claresholm 
put forth its claims and, in answer to a 
lengthy article in The Claresholm Review, 
The Lethbridge News had this to say: The 
Review feels that Claresholm is just the 
place for the proposed southern Alberta 
experimental farm and makes a weak 
endeavor to give us and irrigation a black 
eye. If the truth must be told, God simply 
neglected to make arrangements for rain all 
through this south country. Fortunately, 
however, some of us are favored with 
rivers of water from which, by irrigation, we 
can more than offset this handicap. But 
some cannot. Claresholm cannot.' 


Dr. William Saunders, Director of the 

Experimental Farms Service from 1886 to 



Dr. W. H. Fairfield, Superintendent of the 

Lethbridge Experimental Station, 1906-1945. 


Dr. A. E. Palmer, Superintendent of the 

Lethbridge Experimental Station, 1945-1953. 


Mr. H. Chester, Superintendent of the 

Lethbridge Experimental Farm, 1954-1959. 

Rumors abounded during 1905. There 
were to be three experimental farms, one in 
the south, one in the north, and one in 
central Alberta. Innisfail was to be the 
location of the last. Great indignation was 
aroused by a rumor that there were to be 
two experimental farms in Alberta to be 
managed by the Experimental Farm at 
Indian Head. Letters to the editor began to 
appear in the Lethbridge papers calling for 
the establishment of an irrigated 
experimental farm. 

A meeting involving Elliott T. Gait and 
Charles A. Magrath took place in the spring 
or early summer of 1 905. At that meeting, a 
decision was made to offer to the Dominion 
Department of Agriculture, for an 
experimental farm, 1 30 ha (320 acres) of 
unbroken prairie land, together with water 
rights, located about 5 km (3 miles) east of 
the city. The land was 'on the ditch' (it was 
bisected by the main canal of the irrigation 
system) and was divided by the Canadian 
Pacific Railway track, this being an 
important consideration at a time when rail 
transport was essential. This offer to 
donate land may have been the factor that 
tipped the scales and caused the 
government to choose Lethbridge over 
other contenders, particularly Calgary, as 
the location for southern Alberta's 
experimental farm. 

Another factor must have been the 
generally high opinion of the Canadian 
North-West Irrigation Company that 
seemed to prevail. For example, a sugar 
beet industry had been established and in 
1904 produced 326 900 kilograms (kg), or 
720,000 pounds, of sugar. Its development 
was credited to cooperation between Jesse 
Knight, an early southern Alberta 
entrepreneur, and the Irrigation Company. 
The company's enterprise in various other 
activities was lauded in House of 
Commons debates, in the agricultural 
press, and in local newspapers and was 
praised by the Dominion Minister of 
Agriculture, among others. And although 
we tend to forget it now, it was a major 
undertaking to finance and construct the 
irrigation system, one of the largest in 
North America at the time, and the 
enterprise was much admired in official 

Still another factor must have been the 
high opinion of the Mormon settlers that 
was held by Dr. William Saunders, head of 
the Experimental Farms Service. He was 
impressed by their industry and by their 
progress. He was also impressed by the 
winter wheat farming that had developed 

in the Pincher Creek - Cardston area. 
Dr. Saunders undoubtedly had considerable 
influence on the location of the 
experimental station, although it is likely 
that the final decision was a political one. 

By March 8, 1 906, The Lethbridge Herald 
felt able to report that the Dominion 
Department of Agriculture intended to 
establish an experimental farm east of the 
city. And on April 6, Senator L. G. DeVeber 
announced at a meeting of the Board of 
Trade that Lethbridge had been chosen as 
the site for southern Alberta's experimental 
farm. On July 6, the Herald printed an item 
under the heading 'We Get It!' that read: 
'W. C. Simmons received a letter from 
Hon. L. G. DeVeber announcing that 
Dr. Saunders, Superintendent of the 
Experimental Farm at Ottawa had been 
instructed by the Minister of Agriculture to 
proceed to Lethbridge at once to expedite 
the starting of the experimental farm at this 
point ... It is understood that W. H. 
Fairfield will be offered the position of 
Superintendent of the new farm. No better 
choice could be made. The new 
experimental farm will be a big thing for 
southern Alberta and great credit is due 
Senator DeVeber for securing its location 
at this point.' 

Some disappointment was expressed. 
The Claresholm Review said. We 
congratulate Lethbridge on securing the 
experimental farm, but we sincerely regret 
that it was not placed in our locality as we 
believe our district is more suitable to such 
an institution.' 

Mr. Fairfield began work on August 1, 
1906, at a salary of $1,500 a year. His first 
task, with Dr. Saunders and Mr. Magrath, 
was to inspect the property and get an idea 
of the land involved. To their 
disappointment, they found that only about 
25 ha (60 acres) of the original donation 
could be irrigated and that was not 
enough. Dr. Saunders contacted the Hon. 
Sidney Fisher, Minister of Agriculture, who 
wrote to Elliott Gait, then in Montreal, to 
ask for additional 30 ha (80 acres). Mr. 
Gait approved the request by telegram on 
August 9, 1906. 

The farm was virgin prairie when Mr. 
Fairfield took possession. Because of the 
dryness of the soil and the lateness of the 
season, only about 4 ha (10 acres) were 
broken during the fall of 1906. The farm 
was fenced during the fall and winter. 

The Dominion Experimental Station, 
Lethbridge, was the sixth research facility 
of the Experimental Farms Service. 


Chapter 3. Beginning of The Experimental Station 

The boardinghouse in 1908, with Mrs. Frank 
Steedman on the porch. This building was 
still standing in 1976. 

In 1906, the Dominion Experimental 
Station at Lethbridge consisted of 1 60 ha 
(400 acres) of land located 1.6 km (1 mile) 
east of the corporate limits of the City of 
Lethbridge and crossed by the Crow's Nest 
branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway. 
The land, together with water rights, was 
donated to the Dominion government by 
the Alberta Railway and Irrigation 
Company. A strip of land on the eastern 
side of the Station, running north and south 
and containing 40 ha (100 acres), was 
irrigable; the remaining 1 20 ha (300 acres) 
could not be irrigated, and most of that land 
was eventually devoted to experimental 
work for dryland farming. 

The first task of W. H. Fairfield as 
Superintendent was to organize the work, 
to sort out the various crops and cultural 
methods available to the farmers of 
southern Alberta and to determine which 
ones were best suited to the region. The 
many new farm homes then springing up 
throughout southern Alberta received 
attention also, and farmstead beautification, 
orchards, and gardens were emphasized. 

During the autumn of 1 906, about 4 ha 
(10 acres) were broken along the eastern 
side of the Station. The next spring, 1 .2 ha 
(3 acres) of this land were prepared as well 
as circumstances permitted, and apples, 
plums, raspberries, black currants, red 
currants, white currants, and gooseberries 
were set out. Ornamental trees and shrubs 

and peonies were put in as well. Several 
hundred small elms, ashes, Manitoba 
maples, and cottonwoods, used later in 
general plantings throughout the Station, 
were transplanted into nursery beds. In the 
fall of 1 907, hardy perennial plants were 
received and planted, and several hundred 
cuttings of poplar and willow were heeled 
in ready to be transplanted in the spring. 

During the spring and summer of 1907, 
60 ha (145 acres) of land were broken. Of 
this, 1 9 ha (47 acres) were on the irrigated 
portion and the remainder on the 
nonirrigated part. In August, the land was 
backset except for about 6 ha (15 acres), 
which were reserved so that a test could 
be made to show the effect of backsetting 
on grain crops and compare it with the 
effect of merely breaking the land. This 
was the start of cultural experiments. In the 
fall, 1 630 kg, or 60 bushels, of Kharkov and 
Turkey Red No. 389 winter wheats were 
purchased from the Kansas Agricultural 
College, and hand-picked. Three hectares 
(8 acres) of each variety were planted 
beside 3 ha (8 acres) of the best Alberta- 
grown Turkey Red that could be found. A 
date-of-seeding experiment was set up for 
winter wheat: 0.05-ha (Vs-acre) single plots 
were sown at 2-week intervals between 
August 1 5 and November 30. 

Irrigators of the region needed 
information on the actual amount of water 
required to irrigate various crops. To gain 

this information, all water used by the 
Experimental Station was measured over a 
weir and amounts were recorded. 
Arrangements were made with the Lallie 
Surveying Instrument and Supply Company 
of Denver, Colorado, for one of their water 
registers. It proved to be unsatisfactory, 
and a Friez water register was obtained. 

On April 10, 1907, Mr. Fairfield visited the 
new Station with Mr. Patterson, the 
carpenter foreman, and selected a site for 
the barn. This was a spacious structure, 
measuring 1 1 .6 by 21 .9 m (38 by 72 feet). 
Most of the ground floor was occupied by 
stalls for the workhorses, but one end was 
partitioned off for carriages. On the second 
floor was a room for feed bins, and the rest 
of the space was used as a hayloft. 

Patterson next built an implement shed 
two stories high. The ground floor was 
used to store implements and tools, with 
sufficient space at one end to operate a 
small threshing machine. The upper floor 
was used as a general workroom and 
storage space for grains. There was a 
lean-to on the north side of the building to 
accommodate wagons and other gear. 

Dr. William Saunders, Director of the 
Experimental Farms Service, Ottawa, 
visited the Station on June 1, 1907. On 
June 3, he and Mr. Fairfield selected the 
site for a cottage, and its cellar was started 
the next day. The six-roomed, story-and- 
a-half cottage was used as a residence by 


the Fairfields from August to December 
1907, then as a boardinghouse. The first 
stenographer and first woman to be 
employed by the Station was Miss Hatch, 
daughter of George Hatch, an early mayor 
of Lethbridge. She began work on July 8, 
1907, in a temporary office in the new 

The Superintendent's residence was 
started on July 5, 1907, and was completed 
about the end of the year. It was three 
stories high and contained nine rooms, one 
of which was given a separate entrance 
and fitted out as an office. 

Mr. Fairfield was a very busy man during 
the period. As well as supervising the work 
of the new Station and overseeing its 
building program, he found time to judge at 
seed fairs, speak at meetings, and help 
organize, attend, and present a paper at an 
Irrigation Congress in Calgary. His diary for 
that year mentions meetings at Raymond, 
Magrath, Cardston, Macleod, Granum, 
Claresholm, Gleichen, and Medicine Hat. 
He usually traveled by train. 

The building program continued into 
1908 with the construction of an ice house 
early in the new year. A foreman's house 
must have been built in late 1907 because 
W. C. (Chad) Poland, the farm foreman, 
started work on January 6, 1 908, and on 
January 13 there is a notation that hands 
are hauling belongings from old boarding 
place to foreman's house.' Granaries were 
built and board fences were put up at the 
back of the foreman's house and the 
Superintendent's residence. A chicken 
house and root cellar completed the 
immediate program. South and north 
bridges were built over the irrigation canal 
in March and December 1 908, respectively. 

The 1908 annual report of the Station 
began a practice that continued for many 
years: results were published separately for 
the nonirrigated or 'dry' farm and the 
irrigated farm. Mr. Fairfield pointed out that, 
in practice, two experimental farms were 
being operated. The intention was not to 
compare the two systems, but rather to 
study their individual problems. 

The first buildings on the Station, about 
1 908. Left to right, the implement shed, the 
horse barn, and the boardinghouse. 

Superintendent's house about 1909. The 
doorway at left opened into the first office, 
used from 1908 to 1919. Beth Fairfield is 
seated on the steps to the office. 

Much effort in 1 908 was devoted to 
planting trees, particularly during April, May, 
and June. Daily journals for the period 
contain numerous comments such as: 
Lining up and staking out for trees', 
planting cottonwoods, elms, and trees in 
orchards', planted box elders, poplar trees, 
evergreens, willows, and elms north of 
railway', set sighters for elms along fence', 
set out ash and Cottonwood trees along 
ditch', and set out willow slips'. Special 
permission had to be obtained from the 
Alberta Railway and Irrigation Company to 
set out trees along the main canal. Trees 
were planted around the outside border of 
the Station and on both sides of main 
drives. (The road from the building area to 
No. 3 highway was still known as Elm 
Drive in 1976.) 


Mr. Childs, whose wife ran the 
boardinghouse, died in February 1 908, and 
Mr. and Mrs. Frank Steedman, who had 
recently arrived from England, took over. 

The season of 1 909 saw increased 
expansion of both dry and irrigated 
orchards where permanent plantations of 
gooseberries, raspberries, and red, black, 
and white currants were set out. 
Windbreaks were found to be essential in 
the Lethbridge region before any fruit could 
be grown. 

The Provincial Department of Agriculture 
arranged for an excursion to the Station on 
July 23, 1909. A special Canadian Pacific 
Railway train was run from Calgary, and 
special rates were obtained over the 
Alberta Railway and Irrigation Company's 
lines, this was the first excursion of its kind 
to the Station, and many farmers took the 
opportunity to visit the place. 

Tree planting continued in 1910. Plum 
trees, birch, balsam poplar, maple, larch, 
cottonwood, and creeper vines were 
planted around the Superintendent's 
residence. Blue spruce trees were 
transplanted to the south lawn, also 
Manitoba maples. An entry in Mr. Fairfield's 
diary lists trees used by the City of 
Lethbridge, as follows: 'elm, streets- 1,750; 
elm, parks-2,200; and elm, ash, 
cottonwood, parks- 1,000.' This entry, and 
others, reflected Mr. Fairfield's great 
interest in tree planting throughout 
southern Alberta. By example, exhortation, 
and suggestion, he probably did more than 
any other person to transform the region 
from a treeless plain to its present state. 

By 191 1, results of experiments had 
shown that, because of the light rainfall in 
southern Alberta cultural methods needed 

special attention to get maximum yields. 
Specifically, it was found that a farmer had 
to keep one-third of his land in 
summerfallow each year. The main 
purpose was to conserve moisture. The 
need to summerfallow occasionally made it 
difficult to determine suitable rotations. As 
a result, a number of rotations were started 
in the spring of 191 1 . (Most of them were 
still maintained in 1976.) Those on dry land 
ranged from rotation A, continuous wheat, 
to rotation T, a 1 0-year rotation including 
forage crops and a hoed crop. 

It was also found that to make an 
irrigated farm profitable, most of it had to 
be used for hay, and preferably alfalfa. 
Because of this discovery, in 191 1 a new 
rotation was set up on irrigated land 
(rotation U); it included 6 years for alfalfa 
hay, 3 years for grains, and 1 year for a 
hoed crop. 

The Station began its first experiment 
with livestock during the fall of 191 1 with a 
test on feeding lambs; Frank S. Grisdale, a 
graduate of MacDonald College and the 
first assistant superintendent, was placed in 
charge. Up to this time, no stock of any 
kind had been kept, except for the animals 
needed to operate the Station. The lamb- 
feeding experiment was started to find out 
the value of alfalfa as the only feed, and its 
value in various combinations with roots 
and grains. 

In 191 1, also, the Provincial Jail was built 
on adjoining property about 0.8 km (V-? 
mile) east of the Experimental Station. This 
made it possible for the Station to receive 
water and power in 1913. Power was 
supplied from a generator at the Jail by 
way of a power line that crossed the yard 
of a neighboring farmer, C. R. Daniels. It 

First sheep shed, about 191 1-1912. 


The Coaldale Road, about 1912. On the left 
is the C. R. Daniel home and the 
Experimental Station; on the right is the 
Provincial Jail. Source-T. L. Ferguson; 
Photographer— A. Rafton Canning. 

was on for a few hours in the morning and 
cut off about 1 1 :00 a.m.; on again for an 
hour or two in the afternoon and for most 
of the evening hours; then off for the night 
about 10:00 p.m. Water was first received 
by way of a small pipeline from the Jail 
Lake. In 1912, City of Lethbridge water was 
piped to the Exhibition Grounds, and the 
Jail arranged for the line to be continued to 
its own location. The Station, in turn, 
tapped the new line. 

The International Dry Farming Congress 
was held in Lethbridge on October 21, 
1912. Arrangements for the Congress had 
begun in 1908 when Mr. Fairfield took 27 
kg (1 bushel) of Alberta Red wheat from 
Lethbridge to the Dry Farming Congress in 
Cheyenne, Wyoming. To his surprise, and 
to the surprise of southern Alberta farmers, 
the sample won first prize. The message to 
the farmers was clear and unmistakable— 
they could grow wheat along with the best 
in North America. That was the start of a 
campaign to bring the Dry Farming 
Congress to Lethbridge. 

The 7th Session of the International Dry 
Farming Congress caused a great stir in 
Lethbridge. Many streets of the city were 
paved. The coming of the Congress 
speeded up the installation of a street 
railway system, which was completed in 
September. Three new buildings and a 
grandstand were built at the Exhibition 
Grounds to house the Congress. 

Mr. Fairfield, who had so much to do 
with bringing the Congress to Lethbridge, 
was chairman of awards. He was referred 
to in reports as the local agricultural 
encyclopedia', the original farmer of the 
Lethbridge district', and the final authority 
on matters pertaining to the agriculture of 

southern Alberta'. Representatives of 14 
nations attended the Congress, including 
many noted agriculturists. Many took the 
opportunity to visit the Dominion 
Experimental Station. A sample of Marquis 
wheat, grown at Raymond by Henry 
Holmes, won the top prize at the Congress. 

Steer-feeding experiments were started 
in the fall of 1912. These were supervised 
by Victor (Vic) Matthews, Frank Grisdale 
having left in midsummer. The steer- 
feeding experiments were designed to find 
a profitable use for alfalfa hay by marketing 
it through cattle. Alfalfa hay was fed in 
combination with oat hay and alone. All 
feeding was done in the open and the only 
shelter provided was open sheds. 

The Steedmans left the boardinghouse, 
and that job was taken on by Mr. and Mrs. 
A. N. (Andy) Maloney. After inspecting the 
boardinghouse, Mrs. Maloney refused to 
move in. The place was badly infested with 
bedbugs, as transient help then stayed in 
rooms there in the absence of a 
bunkhouse. It proved to be difficult to 
eradicate the pests so Mr. Fairfield ordered 
that the inside of the boardinghouse be 
relathed and replastered. With the crude 
insecticides of the day and some labor, this 
proved to be effective and the infestation 
was cleared up. 

Mr. Maloney was taken on as a general 
handyman and drove a team into 
Lethbridge once a day for mail, supplies, 
and other necessities. Also, he drove the 
Station children to and from school. On 
Sundays, there was the official trip to town 
to take people to church. 

George B. McMillan was the farm 
foreman in 1912, W. C. Poland having 
resigned. R. J. C. (Dick) Paris was the 


^i * 



* ~- - ■ 


"f*^ • " ■ 

: -at* 

Steers ted /n vwnter, 1912-1913. 

Looking northwest from top of 
Superintendent's house in 1913. Buildings 
are, from left to right, the implement shed, 
horse barn, steer- and sheep-feeding sheds, 
and boardinghouse. 

~* ' 'til 

head gardener. John R. (Jock) Coyle, a 
young man recently arrived from Scotland 
with his parents, was taken on that summer 
at the going rate of 1 8C an hour. Like other 
Station employees, he worked 1 hours a 
day, and 9 hours on Saturdays; he walked 
back and forth between the Station and his 
home in North Lethbridge. (Sixty-four years 
later, men worked 8 hours a day for 5 days 
and earned $5.25 an hour.) Erie E. 
Eisenhauer was secretary to Mr. Fairfield 
and the office clerk. Charles Griffin, the 
irrigationist, had been working for the 
Station for 3 years. One of the workmen 
drowned in Fairy Lake, as the willow- 
fringed reservoir was then called. A 
redheaded Scotsman, John Milroy, formerly 
employed on a sheep ranch in Wyoming, 
was taken on in 1913. He was made farm 
foreman shortly after his arrival. 

The Station's report for 1913 began the 
practice of recording the results of 
experiments in separate sections. Under 
Animal Husbandry, there appeared reports 
of the experiments on feeding steers and 
lambs. Cereals work was reported for the 
dry farm and the irrigated farm and 
included data on growing wheat, oats, 
barley, flax, peas, and buckwheat. Field 
Husbandry, also reported for the dry and 
irrigated farms, included data on rotations, 
date-of-seeding experiments, rate-of- 
seeding experiments, and soil cultural 

The volume of work was a reflection of 
the homesteading then proceeding apace 
throughout southern Alberta and of the 
pressing need for new agricultural 


Chapter 4. World War I 






The Lethbridge Experimental Station, about 

Jail Road 

The slogan during the Great War of 
1914-18 was Patriotism and Production'. It 
governed the activities of the Lethbridge 
Experimental Station, as it did other 
branches of government and the public. At 
first, the war had little effect on the Station 
except that the Public Works appropriation 
was halved and spending even the amount 
voted was questioned. Construction of 
buildings by tender ended, although some 
small projects went ahead using day labor. 
As time went on, men enlisted and 
experimental studies were disrupted or 

However, there was some expansion at 
the Lethbridge Station in 1914. Bees had 
been kept for home use for several years 
but, in 1914, two hives were obtained for 
experimental purposes. Lethbridge was not 
looked upon as a good location for bees 
because of the strong westerly winds, the 
dry climate, and the almost total 
dependence upon a single crop-alfalfa- 
for bloom. Nevertheless, one of the two 

hives produced 45 kg (100 pounds) of 
honey, the third best of all yields at 
experimental farms or stations in Canada. 

In 1912, the Poultry Division at Ottawa 
had been reorganized and a Dominion 
poultry husbandman, Dr. E. C. Alfred, 
appointed. As a result of the reorganization, 
poultry work started at Lethbridge in 1914. 
Also, it was demonstrated early in the war 
that no other livestock could respond as 
rapidly as poultry to the demands for 
increased production. Early in the year, 
three incubators were purchased and 
installed at one end of a dugout root cellar. 
Eggs for hatching were obtained from the 
Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa the 
Experimental Farm at Agassiz, and the 
Experimental Station at Lacombe. Two 
breeds. Barred Rock and White Leghorn, 
were kept. 

During the summer, five poultry buildings 
were constructed: an administration 
building of one and a half stories, a brooder 
house, a 100-hen permanent house, and 


two 50-hen portable houses. About 1 .2 ha 
(3 acres) of land were fenced with woven 
wire for runs. Notes were taken on trap- 
nesting, feeding, incubation, and winter 
survival; the entire program was designed 
to help the farmer who kept a small flock of 

The building program continued with the 
construction of a herdsman's cottage in the 
area just west of the boardinghouse. Then 
a gardener's cottage was erected on dry 
land near the railway track, near the 
dryland orchard for security. R. J. C. Paris, 
the head gardener, who had lived in 
Lethbridge since about 1912, moved into it 
as soon as it was finished. 

The total area of irrigated land on the 
Station was increased in 1914. Some land, 
which was supposedly below the ditch', 
was too high to be irrigated from the 
Canadian Pacific irrigation lateral that ran 
through the Station. By using a pump to lift 
the water 1 .8 to 2.1 m (6 to 7 feet) higher, 
about 40 ha (100 acres) more land could 
be irrigated than was possible by ordinary 
gravity methods. 

In October 1914, Mr. Fairfield 
accompanied Dr. J. H. Grisdale, Director of 
the Experimental Farms Service, Ottawa 
on an inspection trip to select sites where 
illustration stations could be established. 

Dr. Grisdale, who was Dr. William 
Saunders' successor, had considered the 
establishment of such stations for several 
years. He pointed out that the Dominion 
experimental farms had accumulated much 
information and knowledge but the 
information was not reaching farmers, 
particularly the poor ones. He conceived 
the idea of establishing demonstration 
farms (actually, they were called illustration 
stations) at various places to practice crop 
rotation, soil cultivation, and soil 
improvement under the direction of an 
agricultural officer. The intention was to 
secure the cooperation of a farmer of good 
repute whose farm was located on a well- 
traveled road and within easy walking 
distance of a central town or village. About 
12 ha (30 acres) of his farm would be 
rented by the government, and as many 
2-ha (5-acre) fields as there were years in 
the various rotations would be farmed 
under direction. 

In April 1915, illustration stations were 
established at 13 locations in Alberta: Bow 
Island, Carmangay, Empress, Foremost, 
Grassy Lake, Jenner, Macleod, Magrath, 
Manyberries, Medicine Hat, Milk River, 
Pincher Creek, and Whitla. In July, two 
more stations were established, at High 

River and Munson. Mr. J. F. Irwin, a 
graduate of Manitoba Agricultural College 
and a practicing farmer, was appointed 
assistant in charge of the illustration 
stations in Alberta. He was stationed at 

By 1915, Mr. Fairfield was the oldest 
Superintendent in the Dominion from the 
standpoint of service. This was brought out 
at a conference of experimental farm and 
station superintendents at Ottawa in 
January. The conference did much to 
systematize the work on the experimental 
farms and stations. Also, it focused 
attention on topics that should be studied 
because of the war. 

One of those topics was production of 
seed of roots, grasses, and leguminous 
forage plants. The Lethbridge Station was 
not very interested in seed production of 
root crops, although some experiments 
were undertaken. Of more concern was 
seed production of grasses and alfalfa; the 
possibilities for commercial production of 
alfalfa seed in southern Alberta had been 
demonstrated during the previous 6 or 7 
years. Also, Mr. Fairfield had kept closely in 
touch with the industry that produced 
timothy seed, then centered on Pincher 
Creek. Studies at Lethbridge had shown 
that row seedings produced more and 
better seed than broadcast seedings. 

The experimental plot system was 
revised about 1915. Since 1907, results at 
Lethbridge had been based on data from 
single plots, usually from 0.004 to 0.01 ha 
(1 / 100 to 1 /40 acre) in size. The variability 
of the land was recognized as a serious 
problem, but there was little that the 
practical experimenter could do about it 
except to select uniform areas for his tests. 
Starting about 1915, the duplicate plot 
system was used at Lethbridge and the 
check plot system was considered. In the 
latter, standard or check varieties were 
sown in every fifth, tenth, or twentieth plot 
depending upon circumstances. A map of 
the field was prepared, and plots were 
grouped around a check plot according to 
their nearness or, where the soil was very 
variable, according to the character of the 
soil. The average yield of all check plots 
was determined; then, additions were made 
to below-average check plot yields to bring 
them up to the average, and subtractions 
were made from above-average yields. 
Corresponding additions or subtractions 
could then be made to yields of each test 
plot in the group. This led to the major 
objection to the check plot system-that, 
because of these adjustments, the results 

published in reports were corrected ones 
and not the actual data obtained from the 

Conditions were so favorable in 1915 
because of generous rains and ample soil 
moisture that irrigation was not required. 
This was the first time that Station yields 
had not been improved by the application 
of irrigation water. Mr. Fairfield pointed out 
that there was only one other year, 1902, 
when crops of the Lethbridge district did 
not benefit from irrigation. 

Another research program was started to 
determine the prospects for tobacco 
growing in southern Alberta. Growth of 
filler, binder, and pipe tobaccos was 
assessed. Tobacco leaf was hung up to 
cure and dry in the implement shed; 
combustibility and percentage nicotine 
were determined at Ottawa. But the yield 
was unsatisfactory, growing conditions 
were not suitable, and the experiment was 
soon discontinued. (Tobacco was grown 
experimentally on plots at Taber during 
World War II, but again results were 

As in 1915, irrigation was not required for 
general farm crops in 1916. Hay and 
pasture crops were greatly improved in 
yield by irrigation in early May, however. 

Although the hog industry of the prairies 
had expanded slowly, a great demand for 
bacon and hog products arose about 1915 
and caused a sudden increase in the 
number of hogs kept in Alberta. The 
Lethbridge Experimental Station responded 
to this new agricultural need early in 1916 
and acquired hogs for experiments. 
Lumber was purchased for hog cabins', 
which implies that several animals had to 
be housed. 

J. F. Irwin, the inspector of illustration 
stations for the Province of Alberta made 
1 01 visits to station operators during the 
season. A special feature was introduced in 
1916: extension meetings were held on the 
farms where the illustration work was being 

R. J. C. Paris, Victor Matthews, A. T. 
Kemp, and E. H. Strickland enlisted in 
1916, the latter two in the University of 
Alberta Battalion. 

By 1917, labor problems on the Station 
had become acute. An assistant, G. S. 
Hirst, arrived in May and left for the war in 
November. Alice Fairfield, daughter of Mr. 
Fairfield, maintained the weather records 
because no one else was available. High- 
school students were employed during 
summer holidays, as were university 
students. Jail prisoners were used as much 


as possible. But results of poultry 
experiments, for example, were not 
satisfactory because of the changes in the 

The Maloneys bought a Model T Ford, 
the first car on the Station. Later, Mr. 
Fairfield purchased a car, and both he and 
Mr. Maloney learned to drive by climbing 
aboard their acquisitions and driving home. 
On his first trip out from Lethbridge, Mr. 
Fairfield passed Mr. Maloney but was so 
engrossed in driving his new car that, later, 
he had no recollection of ever seeing or 
passing anyone on the road. 

Although 1915, 1916, and, to a lesser 
extent, 1917 were wetter than normal, 1918 
turned out to be very dry. Problems of 
irrigation were compounded because the 
irrigation company's main canals had been 
allowed to silt up during the wet period and 
so could not carry sufficient water until 
dredged. Fortunately, the water shortage 
did not become acute until after the hay 
crop had developed, and yields were 
normal. But elsewhere, the only crops 
produced were on summerfallow. 

The Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918 
affected the Station as it did the remainder 
of the country. Fear of the disease was 
great, and steps were taken where possible 
to avoid it. On the Station, one of those 
steps was to wear gauze face masks, 
which were sterilized by heating in ovens 
between wearings. Those living on the 
Station were more or less isolated as there 
were no assemblies, church services, or 
other organized gatherings. Mrs. Maloney, 
the boardinghouse keeper, was convinced 
that all food should be cooked as an aid in 
avoiding the flu', and she stopped serving 
raw vegetables, fruits, and similar materials. 
Whatever the merits of these preventative 
measures, no one living at the Station 
contracted influenza during the epidemic, a 
remarkable record in view of the virulence 
of the disease. One of the teamsters, who 
lived in town, died. 

With the close of the war, several lines of 
work, such as the production of seed of 
root crops, were discontinued and others of 
more lasting benefit were started. 
Extensive work in sheep raising under 
range conditions began; in October 1919, 
the Lethbridge Experimental Station 
purchased 800 Merino ewes. They were 
used in an experiment to determine if 
growers of alfalfa on irrigated land could 
maintain commercial-sized flocks of sheep 
on their farms and use the forest reserves 
in the Rocky Mountains for summer 

Studies with sheep on irrigated pasture 
emphasized the finding that when alfalfa 
was added to a pasture mixture, the 
carrying capacity of the pasture more than 
doubled. It was also demonstrated that, 
where a good grass turf existed, cattle or 
sheep could graze on mixtures of grass 
and alfalfa without bloating. 

Interest in irrigation was keen in 1919 
because of the previous dry season. Mr. 
Fairfield attended many farmers' meetings 
and spoke on matters concerning irrigation. 
Data kept from 1908 to 1919 showed that 
irrigation increased yields over dry farming 
as follows: wheat, 77%; oats, 53%; barley, 
81%; and potatoes, 105%. These results 
had a great influence on the farmers of 
southern Alberta and on their attitude 
toward irrigation. 

Up to 1919, irrigation in southern Alberta 
had developed in three phases. At first, 
many small projects were built by 
individuals in the late eighteen seventies 
and eighties. Later, large company projects 
were constructed during the period from 
1898 to 1915. And finally, irrigation districts 
developed, beginning with the Taber 
Irrigation District in 1915 and a 
reconnaissance survey of what became the 
Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District in 
1918. The Experimental Station's findings 
greatly encouraged further development of 
irrigation districts. 

A surplus Army Reo truck was 
purchased in 1919. It had a canvas top 
with long benches across the back and had 
been used to transport troops. It took the 
place of a surrey that, for several years, 
had been used to transport the Station 
children to and from school in Lethbridge. 
Andy Maloney was the driver. A Ford truck 
also was purchased for Station use. 

A lambing shed was started in 1919 and 
completed early in 1 920. It was a gable- 
roofed structure with sliding doors at each 
end to permit a team and rack to drive 
through the building. The shed was 
suitable for lambing 1,000 head. A silo was 
erected at one end of the lambing shed-or 
as it was more commonly called, the Sheep 

A new office building was constructed; 
the weather station was moved to 
accommodate it. Since 1907, a single room 
in the Superintendent's house had been 
used as the Station office. Money was 
voted for a piggery or hog barn in 1919 but. 
after due thought, Mr. Fairfield decided to 
use the funds to construct a new office. 
(Authorities in Ottawa except for the 
Treasury Board, were well aware of what 

was going on.) It included a full basement 
Superintendent's office, general office, 
assistant's office, and toilet on the first 
floor, and three bedrooms and a bathroom 
on the second floor. Bedrooms were 
intended for use by students, office staff, or 
an assistant, as such accommodation was 
very limited at the time. The flagpole was 
moved from its original location at the north 
end of the lawn to a place in front of the 
new office. Because of the source of the 
funds used in its construction, the new 
office building was referred to for several 
years as the Hog Barn. 


Chapter 5. The Twenties 

The main canal about 1920 with Station 
buildings in the background. From left to 
right, buildings are the sheep shed, horse 
barn and implement shed, and main office. 


Soil drifting throughout southern Alberta 
was reported with increasing frequency 
during the twenties. Soil drifting had 
plagued the prairies periodically from the 
time the first sod was broken. It was noted 
by Mennonite settlers in Manitoba in the 
1880s and by Angus McKay, 
Superintendent of the Experimental Farm at 
Indian Head, as early as 1900. 

Some of the first serious drifting in the 
Chinook belt of southern Alberta occurred 
in 191 1 when fields south of Raymond 
blew out. There was more drifting from 
1912 to 1914, but real trouble did not 
develop until after the heavy crops of 1915 
and 1916. Severe drifting occurred from 
1918 into the 1920s, and farm after farm 
was blown out down to the plow sole. 
Fence lines and road allowances of the 
region were piled high with drifted soil. 

Two factors led to the serious drifting. 
Early settlers had brought to the semiarid 
west the farming techniques of the humid 
east. Also, the dryland farming methods 
that did develop in Manitoba and the 
western United States involved deep 
plowing, bare soil surfaces, and a dust 
mulch, conditions that almost invited wind 
erosion and soil drifting. The Ten 
Commandments' of dry farming were: (1) 
plow deep; (2) keep the surface soil loose 
and level and the lower soil compact; (3) 
keep down the weeds; (4) add organic 
matter to the soil; (5) summerfallow when 
annual rainfall is less than 380 mm (15 
inches); (6) grow corn or a cultivated crop 



every 2 to 5 years; (7) grow clover, alfalfa, 
or some leguminous crop every few years; 
(8) grow early-maturing crops; (9) keep 
livestock; and (10) plant trees. The theory 
of dust mulch farming was publicized by 
Professor W. H. Campbell of South Dakota 
and was widely accepted by farmers during 
the early years of the twentieth century. 

The problem was particularly acute in 
southern Alberta. Every year was a soil- 
drifting year in the Chinook belt, and 
nowhere else did the winds play as 
important a part in the farming operation. 
The limited snowfall usually disappeared 
once or more during the winter and again 
early in the spring, leaving the soil bare and 
open to wind erosion. During October and 
November before snowfall, high winds 
often caused much damage. Also, soils of 
the region tended to be fine textured, 
especially the easily eroded silty loams and 
fine sandy loams of the Monarch - 
Nobleford area. 

The dryland soils of the Experimental 
Station had drifted occasionally during 
drought years. But a 32-ha (80-acre) tract 
of land to the northwest of the Station had 
suffered badly from drifting during these 
periods. In about 1 920, this land was 
rented by the Station from the Department 
of Natural Resources of the Canadian 
Pacific Railway at a cost of $280 a year for 
experiments on control of soil drifting. 

Rotations J and Z were added to the 
dryland rotations. Both were for 5 years 
and included summerfallow, wheat, oats, 

and 2 years in hay. In rotation J, western 
ryegrass was seeded with the oats to help 
control soil drifting and in rotation Z 
sweetclover, then a fairly new crop, was 
used. However, it proved to be nearly 
impossible to establish stands of either the 
grass or the legume because of drought. 

In 1920, for the first time, sheep were 
'taken to the mountains', a practice that 
was to continue until the forties. As Mr. 
Fairfield pointed out in his report, some 
farmers on irrigated land kept a few sheep 
and others would have liked to do so if 
they could provide cheap summer pasture. 
But no readily accessible prairie range 
remained within reach of the irrigated farms 
of the Lethbridge district. Therefore, the 
suggestion was made to use some of the 
mountain pastures, which were then 
unoccupied. The idea was that a few 
neighboring farmers could combine their 
flocks after shearing, ship the sheep by rail 
to the mountains, and pool the cost of 
herding for the 3V2 to 4 summer months. 
The Experimental Station undertook to test 
the idea. (Although it proved feasible, the 
idea never really caught on with the sheep 

Cultural work begun in 1912 was ended 
in 1 920, and a revised set of experiments 
were started on newly broken land. 
Although the work was severely criticized 
in about 1915, some conclusions were 
drawn from the experiment. For example, 
the most profitable way to handle prairie 
sod was to break it the first year and let it 
stand over until the next season before 
sowing a crop; shallow plowing and 
backsetting were more successful than 
deep plowing in breaking prairie sod. 
Plowing summerfallow to a depth of 20 cm 
(8 inches) gave higher yields than plowing 
to either 10 or 15 cm (4 or 6 inches). Fall 
harrowing of summerfallow gave higher 
yields than omitting the harrowing. When 
rape was sown as a summerfallow 
substitute and pastured off, wheat yields 


Visitors at a short course on irrigation 
farming, Lethbridge Experimental Station, 
January 29 to February 8, 1924. 

were reduced by 605 kg/ ha (9 bushels per 
acre) and oat yields by 150 kg/ ha (4 
bushels per acre). (The depressing effect 
of rape was found by Dr. J. S. Horricks in 
the early seventies to be caused by a 
poisonous substance washed from the 
rape plant into the soil.) Fall cultivation 
before the summerfallow year was not a 
profitable practice. Seeding wheat 5 to 6 
cm (2 to 2.5 inches) deep gave the best 
results over 7 years of experiments. 

By 1921, weather records were 
becoming sufficiently reliable that climatic 
differences could be distinguished in 
different areas of southern Alberta. It was 
recognized that the frost-free period 
increased from about 1 04 days at 
Lethbridge to about 1 23 days at Medicine 
Hat. Total precipitation increased from east 
to west across southern Alberta. Wet and 
dry cycles had been experienced, and the 
extreme variability of precipitation in 
southern Alberta had become apparent. 

In November 1921, A. E. Palmer came to 
the Station as an assistant superintendent. 
Mr. Palmer was given responsibility for 
irrigation investigations and bee- and 

poultry-keeping, the last because he was 
able to get along with Charles A. 
Crossfield, the head poultryman, who had 
an abrasive personality. 

The experiments on 'duty of water' 
started in 1922. In the early stages of an 
irrigation project, Mr. Fairfield pointed out 
the engineering features of canal and field 
construction received the most attention. 
As development proceeded, these 
problems were solved. Attention then 
turned to problems of production, or the 
strictly agricultural features of the industry. 
Thus, on irrigated land or dry land, 
satisfactory kinds and varieties or crops 
had to be selected, proper cultural methods 
had to be established, and the marketing of 
products, by feeding or otherwise, had to 
receive attention. But one feature of 
irrigated farming was different from all 
others: the proper use of irrigation water. 

Crops included in the investigation were 
wheat, alfalfa timothy, brome. mixed 
pasture grasses, sunflowers, and potatoes. 
Duplicate 0.02-ha (1 20-acre) square plots 
were used, and each plot was made into a 
kind of basin by constructing a surrounding 


ditch and dike. The time and depth of 
application of irrigation water could be 
varied to suit each plot treatment. Soil 
moisture was determined at 25-cm (1-foot) 
intervals to a depth of 1 .8 m (6 feet) in the 
spring and fall; other determinations were 
made before and after each irrigation. The 
experiment, which went on for 1 7 years, 
was the most elaborate on the Station at 
the time and was under Mr. Palmer's 
direction. Details of these investigations, 
and recommendations drawn from the 
results, were reported by Mr. Palmer in a 
bulletin entitled Use of Irrigation Water on 
Farm Crops. The bulletin was well received 
and went through five reprintings. 

A discovery of great significance to the 
poultry industry was made by Mr. Palmer 
and John Dykes, poultryman. It was that 
humidity in artificial incubators played an 
important role in hatching a high 
percentage of the eggs set and in 
producing large, vigorous chicks. 
Previously, it had been difficult to obtain 
large early hatches of chicks and 
experiments proved that the dry climate 
was responsible. Provision of adequate 
humidity paved the way for a commercial 
poultry industry in Western Canada. 

W. D. Hay, who started work with the 
Station in January 1924, was placed in 
charge of cereals, forages, and special 
crops. The special crops had become 
important because of the interest in new 
irrigation districts in 1 924. Another aspect 
of this interest was the 2-week course on 
irrigation farming that was held at the 
Station from January 29 to February 8. 

The use of alfalfa hay, oat hay, and 
screenings was emphasized in cattle- 
feeding tests until 1921. Beginning in 1921, 
and continuing until 1925, corn silage, 
sunflower silage, and corn fodder received 
attention. All rations were fed with alfalfa 
hay. Generally, steers went on feed at 
about 500 kg (1,100 pounds) and came off 
at 590 to 635 kg (1,300 to 1,400 pounds). 
In 1 922, a group of steers fed on alfalfa hay 
with corn silage gained 1 .1 kg (2.4 pounds) 
a day, the best average daily rate of gain 
recorded up to that time, and came off feed 
at 700 kg (1,540 pounds). The various 
studies showed that corn silage provided 
an excellent supplement to combine with 
alfalfa for fattening steers. The feed 
provided more and cheaper gains and gave 
a better finish in a shorter time than other 
feeds. It was followed in order of 
preference by sunflower silage, then corn 


In 1 923 to 1 924, a movement was 
started to reopen a sugar beet factory at 
Raymond. The area of irrigated land had 
increased and specialty crops were 
required, better varieties of sugar beets had 
become available, more was known about 
sugar beet culture, and ammonium and 
phosphate fertilizers had been introduced. 
In 1 925, a plant was moved to Raymond 
from Sunnyside, Washington, and Canadian 
Sugar Factories Limited came into being. 
Although not included in Experimental 
Station annual reports, the development 
was aided by tests of sugar beets and 
assays of sugar at the Station. Sugar 
beets, for example, were used as the hoed 
crop in rotation U from 1923 onwards. 

In June 1925, the first dairy cattle were 
received from the Holstein-Friesian herd of 
the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa. 
There were three mature cows, one 2-year- 
old heifer, two yearling heifers, two heifer 
calves, and a 7-month-old bull. A few 
weeks later, this herd of nine head was 
supplemented by a shipment from the 
Experimental Station at Lacombe of eight 
animals: three mature cows, two 2-year-old 
heifers, two yearlings, and one heifer calf. 
The herd thus contained 1 7 purebred 
Holstein-Friesians, all from accredited 
herds. Eight of the cows were soon placed 
on an experimental feeding test, to 
determine the economy of milk production 
when a home-grown ration was fed as 
compared with a ration supplemented by 
purchased concentrates high in protein. 

The rod-row' method of testing cereals 
was adopted in 1 924 and, by 1 926, had 
replaced the old system of duplicate 0.007- 

The main office and assistant 
superintendent's house, about 1926. 

ha (1 /60-acre) plots. Each plot consisted 
of three rows 18 cm (7 inches) apart and 
5.6 m (I8V2 feet) long. Plots were sown 
side by side as they would be in a farm 
field. At harvest time, 25 cm (12 inches) 
were cut off each end so that conditions at 
the border would not affect results. This 
left plots 5.1 m, or 1 rod, long (hence the 
name). Average yields were determined 
from the center row of each plot. Plots 
were seeded in quadruplicate but were not 
randomized. Data were averaged. 

In 1927, yearling steers and spayed 
heifers were placed in feeding trials for the 
first time, instead of the 2- and 3-year-old 
steers of former years. It had been 
recognized in about 1 924 that the range 
areas of Western Canada were the logical 
place to breed and produce feeder cattle at 
low cost. It was essential to protect the 
ranching industry and make it a 
dependable source of supply of high- 
quality, young feeder cattle. This meant 
that ranchers could no longer afford to 
market 3- and 4-year-old steers off grass 
as overweight and half-finished cattle. 
Instead, they were forced to feed calves 


and market them as yearlings. Also, a 
grading system was introduced and 
adopted at a National Beef Cattle 
Conference at Winnipeg, whereby best- 
quality beef was to be graded and sold 
under 'Choice' (Red) or 'Good' (Blue) 
brands. The immediate result of the new 
system was to give the production of well- 
bred, properly finished, young cattle the 
recognition it deserved in the marketplace. 
The system required a steady supply of 
230-kg (500-pound) carcasses, which 
meant that cattle had to be finished as 
yearlings. A problem at the Experimental 
Station was to devise rations that would 
stimulate fattening rather than growth of 
these young cattle. 

Additional land for experimental 
purposes had been rented from the 
Canadian Pacific Railway throughout the 
twenties, but it was not until 1 927 that land 
was purchased. In that year, 41.7 ha (103.1 
acres) of the land immediately south of the 
Station were obtained from the railway 
company at a cost of $1 5,000. The land 
consisted of unbroken prairie oversown 
with timothy and irrigated for several years, 
and it was needed by the Station to grow 
feed for the expanded livestock program. 

Experimental work with swine expanded 
considerably during the late twenties. 
Feeding swine with protein supplements 
was studied, and grain requirements for 
winter and summer feeding were 
compared. Use of cheap straw houses had 
been investigated early in the program and, 
in 1 927, an elaborate piggery was 
constructed. Problems arose immediately 
among litters farrowed in the cement- 
floored piggery, as suckling pigs died of 
anemia and half-grown pigs of rickets. In 
1 929, preliminary trials were undertaken 
with pastures and corn and peas for 
hogging off, advanced registration of swine 
was investigated, and observations were 
made on anemia in suckling pigs and 
rickets in half-grown pigs. A breeding herd 
of 25 Yorkshire sows was maintained, and 
the total herd numbered 224 hogs. 

The decade ended as it had begun with 
emphasis on measures to control soil 
drifting. Important developments had taken 
place in southern Alberta during the 
twenties. Strip farming started near 
Monarch where the Koole Brothers grew 
strips of wheat alternating with 
summerfallow to decrease wind velocity 
and to protect the topsoil. 

The introduction of plowless fallow or 
shallow tillage was an even greater 
adaptation to western conditions than was 
strip farming. The basic idea was to use an 
implement that did not bury all plant 
residue but left some on the surface for 
protection. But reports of severe drifting on 
shallow-tilled fields began to come in. 
Investigations by Mr. Palmer showed that 
farmers had burned the weeds and stubble 
to make the fields easier to work. It was 
obvious that, if shallow tillage was to be 
used, the trash had to be left on the 

When plows were no longer used, there 
was an urgent need for an implement that 
could penetrate unplowed ground, kill 
weeds without burying the stubble, and 
operate in heavy trash without clogging. 
The idea of a sliding-blade type of 
cultivator occurred to several farmers, 
including John Turner and Otto Wobick of 
Barons. C. S. Noble started work on his 
blade, getting the basic idea from potato 
diggers in fields in California. 

As well as shallow tillage, strip farming, 
and blade cultivation, other methods were 
tried. Ed Hodges of Magrath attached small 
lister shovels to his cultivator and ridged 
his fields, a technique that had originated in 
Kansas. Farmers around Raymond 
scattered straw on their fields in a 
successful attempt to stop isolated areas of 
drifting soil. Norman Grier of Macleod 

seeded a cover crop of oats on 
summerfallow in late summer to protect the 
soil against drifting in fall, winter, and early 

Thus, most of the practices for control of 
soil drifting that were later used during the 
thirties were in wide use and their 
effectiveness had already been 
demonstrated in southern Alberta. The 
basic recommendations were to break the 
velocity of the wind by strip farming; to 
keep the soil covered by living or dead 
plant material; to keep bare soil lumpy or 
ridged; and to stop active drifting 
immediately by whatever means available. 

These control measures, and the 
development of suitable machinery, all 
began as innovations on the farm. The 
professional agriculturists at the Lethbridge 
Experimental Station recognized what was 
under way on the farms of the region. They 
worked with the more inventive farmers 
and gradually provided the scientific 
foundation needed for wider application of 
the methods or machines. The result was 
that when the drought years of the thirties 
came along, southern Alberta had 1 5 to 20 
years of farmers' experience and 10 to 15 
years of sound experimental evidence on 
methods of combating soil erosion by wind. 

It was an excellent example of teamwork 
between science and the farm. And it was 
to save Western Canada in the decade 


Wind erosion. 


Chapter 6. The Dirty Thirties 

The thirties opened with the Wall Street 
crash of October 1 929, and ended with the 
invasion of Poland by Germany in 
September 1 939. The era had profound 
effects on the type of agriculture practiced 
in Western Canada and left invisible scars 
on the people who experienced it. As early 
as 1930, a well-defined drought area began 
to appear in southeastern Alberta and 
southwestern Saskatchewan, culminating in 
the total crop failure of 1937. Soil drifting 
was widespread and uncontrolled. 
Depending upon ones location, the period 
was variously known as the Depression, 
the Great Depression, or, in the drought 
area the Dirty Thirties. 

But in 1930 on the Experimental Station, 
few of these influences could be detected. 
Work went on as it had during the twenties. 
On dry land, the work was concerned with 
cultural practices as they affected crop 
yields, moisture conservation, soil drifting, 
and the use of commercial fertilizers. On 
irrigated land, studies included application 
of water to various crops, the value of 
legumes in rotations and as green manure, 

management of pastures, and the effect of 
fertilizers on yield of sugar beets. 

The main office was the nucleus of the 
Station. Arthur Jones, an Englishman, 
presided over it, then Elizabeth (Beth) 
Fairfield in the early thirties, and Jean 
Ringland after August 1938. Here Dr. 
Fairfield had his office, the fireplace of 
which was usually filled with burned 
wooden matches from the repeated lighting 
of his pipe. (W. H. Fairfield had received an 
honorary LL.D. degree from the University 
of Alberta in May 1930.) 

Karl Rasmussen, a young animal 
scientist, arrived at the Station in December 
1930 to replace Arthur Newman. He 
completed his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees 
while employed there, the first scientist to 
do so. His interest was in sheep, and he 
began quickly to effect changes in the 
animal husbandry program. Steer-feeding 
experiments were discontinued in 1 934 and 
were not resumed until 1946. The swine 
program was beset by an infestation of 
roundworms in 1 930, serious outbreaks of 
disease in 1 934 and 1 935, and financial 

Dust storm near Pearce, Alberta. 


problems caused by the depression. It was, 
therefore, discontinued and the herd sold in 
1 936. The horse program continued, as 
these animals provided most of the motive 
power on the Station, and a superior 
stallion, Chief Laet, was purchased from 
Michigan State College in East Lansing, 

In February 1931, a fire of mysterious 
origin destroyed the horse barn and partly 
destroyed a granary. Five teams of horses 
were in the barn at the time of the fire and 
were saved only after they were blindfolded 
and led out. Boy Scouts of McLean's 
School, one of whom— A. Douglas Smith- 
was later employed by the Station, did 
valuable work in carrying harness and 
other accessories from the burning 

As early as 1929, Dr. C. H. Goulden, 
then a young researcher at Winnipeg, 
began to advocate replication in plot 

experiments and more sophisticated 
mathematical analyses. The only person at 
Lethbridge with the inclination to 
understand the new techniques was Jacob 
Witrofsky, a member of the Cereal Section 
under W. D. Hay since 1934. It was he 
who introduced statistics to the Station in 
the mid-thirties. Mr. Witrofsky was not 
satisfied with averages, which were then 
the usual way of presenting data. He wrote 
to his brother, a mathematician in Austria 
for help in statistical analysis. The brother 
sent an example of an analysis of variance, 
which Mr. Witrofsky applied to plot data. At 
first, his calculations were done by hand or 
with the aid of a slide rule. But, eventually, 
a small, hand-operated Monroe calculator 
was purchased and, still later, a small 
electrically operated Facit. 

In 1 934, Herbert Chester was transferred 
to Lethbridge when the Experimental 
Station at Windermere, B.C., was closed. 

With Harry J. Mather he became a 
supervisor of the illustration stations, which 
then operated from Lethbridge. He 
succeeded R. E. Everest, who had been 
transferred to Ottawa. 

The Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act 
(PFRA) was passed by the Dominion 
Parliament and received Royal Assent on 
April 17, 1935. On that same day, Dr. E. S. 
Hopkins of the Central Experimental Farm 
wrote to western superintendents and said: 
It is expected that a considerable amount 
of the work in connection with the new 
Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act will devolve 
upon the Dominion Experimental Farms. 
The Act is designed to learn methods of 
combating drought and soil drifting in the 
prairie provinces.' 

Field Day during the thirties; the speaker is 
A. E. Palmer. 

Drifting soil. 




r^: -:<*, 

. - 

L -^«<y-a 


Ridging a summerfallow field in the winter to 
prevent wind erosion. 

Leaving a good cover of trash with a one- 
way disc. 
Strip farming. 

PFRA ushered in a time of excitement 
and expansion at the western stations, 
especially Swift Current and Lethbridge. 
The Lethbridge Station appropriation more 
than doubled and, for the first and probably 
the only time in its history, the Station had 
all the funds that it could effectively spend. 

Later in April, Dr. Fairfield was appointed 
to a water development committee, of 
which L. B. Thomson was chairman and 
W. L. Jacobson was secretary. For the 
next several years, Dr. Fairfield and Mr. 
Palmer were much in demand as 
consultants to PFRA on irrigation schemes. 
In June, W. L. Jacobson was officially 
seconded from his position as irrigation 
officer with the Experimental Station, which 
he had accepted in 1 932, to the position of 
secretary of the Water Development 
Committee, PFRA. He was located first in 
temporary offices in Medicine Hat and later 
in Swift Current; in 1936, he was 
transferred to Regina where he remained 
for 1 3 years. Mr. Jacobson was noted for 
having started the Experimental Station 
Weekly Letter on November 24, 1 934, with 
an article entitled First Anniversary'. He 
continued it for a time, even after his 
transfer to the Water Development 
Committee; he was asked to write the 
second anniversary issue and did so with 
an article on the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation 
Act. At the time of writing, the 2,231st issue 
of the Weekly Letter had been released. 

PFRA was based on three objectives: 
water conservation, community pasture 
development, and a soil erosion control 
program. The agency was never able to 
reach an agreement with Alberta's Social 
Credit government and there was no PFRA 
community pasture development in the 
province. But the other objectives were 

PFRA activities at Lethbridge in 1 935 
were concerned with farming practices and 
soil reclamation in the drought areas of 
Alberta. The main task was to establish 
district experiment substations, to 
determine and demonstrate the best means 
of controlling soil drifting. The use of strip 
farming, preservation of trash cover, and 
planting of cover crops where needed were 
the basic methods. 


An early model of the Noble blade cultivator. 

Six illustration stations were converted 
into district experiment substations. These 
were located at Bindloss, Castor, Cessford, 
Pincher Creek, Whitla and Youngstown. 
Two new substations were established, 
one at Lomond and the other at Foremost. 
All substations were private farms operated 
by agreement under the direction and 
supervision of Experimental Station 
officials. They were designed to 
demonstrate to farmers of a district that 
soil drifting could be controlled and crops 
could be grown in spite of adverse 

To this end, the substation supervisor 
arranged with the farmer concerned to farm 
his land in strips and to follow a rotation of 
grain and fallow to prevent soil drifting. If 
necessary, part of the land was seeded in 
the fall with a cover crop to prevent drifting 
during winter or early spring. Excessive 
pulverization of the soil was avoided, and 
as much of the stubble and trash as 
possible was left on the surface. In short, it 
was the application of the hard-won 
lessons of the twenties to a wider region of 
Western Canada. Results were often 
dramatic and, even as early as 1 935, 
success in controlling soil drifting was 
achieved on several substations. 

Another area of concern was a large part 
of eastern Alberta where much of the land 
previously farmed had been abandoned 
and ranching or a combination of ranching 
and farming had developed. It was found 
that natural vegetation returned very slowly 
on abandoned farmland, and it was decided 
that much of the land would have to be 
reseeded if it was to provide good grazing 
again. In August 1 935, a party consisting of 

Dr. S. E. Clarke, Dr. Fairfield, Mr. Palmer, 
and Mr. Mather surveyed the region from 
Medicine Hat north to Hanna. They found 
widespread land abandonment, and farming 
confined to pockets of better soils. Much of 
the prairie was covered with sage and 
Russian thistle as a result of abandonment. 
The group recommended that the main 
project on reclamation areas in southern 
Alberta should be to find out how to 
reestablish grass on abandoned lands, 
particularly in areas that were obviously 
better for range than for farmland. They 
also suggested that six regrassing stations 
should be established, at Bowell, Cessford, 
Hutton, Naco, Stanmore, and Sullivan Lake, 
and that experiments should involve mostly 
crested wheatgrass, a species that had 
already found wide acceptance in the dry 
areas of the United States. 

Another important activity of PFRA was 
to help organize agricultural improvement 
associations (AIA), groups of farmers united 
to help themselves. The government 
contributed advice and assistance through 
AIA supervisors, helped in laying out fields 
in strip-cropping patterns, provided free 
grass seed, supplied trees for home shelter, 
made available engineers to design water 
development schemes, and gave grants for 

Still another PFRA activity was water 
development. Assistance was given to 
farmers and ranchers for the construction 
of dugouts, stock-water dams, and small 
irrigation projects. Officers of the 
Lethbridge Experimental Station acted as 
consultants to PFRA on irrigation schemes, 
but the Station took very little part in such 
activities as dugout construction. 


Nevertheless, a D-4 Caterpillar tractor and 
'tumble-bug' were purchased and dugouts 
were constructed on a number of the 
regrassing stations. George Ellis was the 
tractor operator. 

An indication of conditions was obtained 
in the fall of 1936 when Mr. R. W. Peake 
inspected lands in east-central Alberta. He 
estimated that 4860 ha (12,000 acres) 
were in serious condition, with active 
drifting. He proposed a scheme for 
stopping the soil drifting. Spring rye was to 
be seeded in the spring to establish a 
cover during the season of greatest rainfall 
and least wind, then crested wheatgrass 
seeded in the rye stubble. The method 
proved to be very successful and was 
widely used throughout the region in 
ensuing years. 

An addition to the main office was 
constructed in 1 937 to accommodate 
increased staff and to relieve 

Herbert Chester, as well as serving as 
supervisor of illustration stations and 
district experiment substations, was much 
involved during the mid-thirties in 
investigations of municipalities applying for 
inclusion in the Relief Feed area under a 
Dominion -Provincial agreement. By 
January 1937, he had inspected about 
1 ,400 applications for free freight and had 
approved about 65% of them. 

The Chedderville Illustration Station 
attained a measure of fame in 1 937 when it 
was conclusively shown that sulfur added 
to the Gray Luvisol (Grey Wooded) soil of 
the Station dramatically increased yields of 
legumes. The initial discovery was made 
by Dr. Fairfield and R. E. Everest. These 
men suspected that a sulfur deficiency was 
the cause of poor clover yields in the 
region. They went to the local drugstore, 
purchased a quantity of flowers of sulfur, 
and spread it on a small plot seeded with a 
mixture of red clover and timothy. The red 
clover on the unfertilized portion remained 
stunted, which was normal for the region, 
but the treated area produced a rank green 
growth of grass and legume. It was 
obvious that sulfur was essential to the 
successful growth of legumes on Gray 
Luvisol soils. 

About 1938, Barred Rock pullets 
disappeared from poultry houses near the 
dryland orchard: 100 the first night, 75 the 
next. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police 
were called in and fingerprinted all Station 
employees. However, no prints were found 
on the poultry house locks except those of 
the poultrymen and no one was ever 

arrested for the theft, although there were 
rumors that the pullets had been sold in 

Insects did great damage during the 
thirties. According to the Report of the 
Minister of Agriculture for 1938, As has 
been the case each year since 1 932, the 
grasshopper outbreak in the Prairie 
Provinces was the most serious threat to 
field crops in the Dominion.' At Lethbridge, 
studies continued on the pale western 
cutworm, wheat stem sawfly, Say's grain 
bug, and the potato psyllid. Work on the 
wheat stem sawfly was considerably 
expanded in an attempt to produce a 
sawfly-resistant wheat and to protect crops 
on the infested territory that came under 
the strip-farming program. 

Dr. C. W. (Chris) Farstad and Mr. Peake 
cooperated in the program of protection of 
crops from the wheat stem sawfly. They 
selected the Grasswold Municipality at 
Rockyford as the location for their studies. 
Then they explained to municipal 
authorities that, because of the egg-laying 
habits of the wheat stem sawfly, control 
might be achieved by seeding trap strips of 
bromegrass along all roads crisscrossing 
the municipality. A strip of oats could be 
seeded around each wheat field as 
additional protection. Dr. Farstad and Mr. 
Peake offered to provide the grass seed 
and supervise the seeding if the 
municipality would prepare and seed the 
roadsides. The proposal was accepted, and 
soon the roadsides were converted into 
strips of bromegrass and the sawfly 
infestation was controlled. But the grassed 
roadsides also controlled weeds, looked 
attractive, and resisted erosion. Other 
municipalities saw the benefit of the 
practice, and the seeding of roadsides 
became common and widespread. 

Recreational activities during the thirties 
included swimming in the Jail Lake; tennis 
on a court next to the Fairfield residence 
and later on a court located west of the 
Entomology Laboratory; softball and soccer 
on the dryland prairie north of the railway; 
dances at McLean's School; and darts and 
boxing in the bunkhouse. It was during one 
of the boxing matches that C. D. (Butch) 
O'Brien got his nickname. A slightly built 
youngster when he joined the Station 
irrigation crew in 1934, he was called Butch 
after he decked a much larger opponent 
with one punch. 

Runaways often occurred, because 
horses provided the main motive power. 
The Station kept well-bred, high-spirited 
horses, and they were always in excellent 

Ut*f 4 

Experimental Station office staff, about 1 939. 
From left to right: Beth Fairfield, Arthur 
Jones, and Jean Ringland. 

condition. But unusual happenings 
sometimes made them run away, breaking 
equipment and damaging fences. L. A. 
Jacobson remembered being in the 
Entomology Laboratory one day when 
James Black came down Elm Drive with a 
four-horse team on a binder. Mr. Jacobson 
opened a lab window, shouted 'Hello, Jim!', 
and away went the team. The binder soon 
struck a tree and stopped the horses, but 
the machine was wrecked. 

A 32-ha (80-acre) parcel of land was 
purchased from the Canadian Pacific 
Railway in 1 939 for $55 a hectare ($25 an 
acre). The parcel was on the northwest 
corner of the Station, on dry land, and it 
had been rented from the railway for 
several years. The area was known as the 
North Forty and the Cultural Plots. It had 
been blown out badly in the twenties and 
proved to be very useful in soil-drifting 
studies during the thirties. 


Chapter 7. World War II 


Back row, left to right: Thomas Hall, James 
Black, W. Norman McNaughton, W. R. Watts, 
Neils E. Kloppenborg. Front row, left to right: 
W. (Bill) Milroy, Freddy Anderson, Frank M. 
Smith, A. H. (Art) Woolliscroft. Photograph 
taken at the Beaver Club, London, England. 

Back row, from left to right: W. D. Hay, W. 
Norman McNaughton, H. Chester, Jacob 
Witrofsky, Dr. W. H. Fairfield, Neil 
Bosomworth, and G. F. Manson. Front row, 
left to right: J. Ft. McFall, K. W. Hill, L A. 
Jacobson, and A. E. Palmer. 
Opposite page 

Among the many famous personages who 
visited the Lethbridge Research Station was 
Professor Dr. N. I. Vavilov. Dr. Vavilov died 
about 1942 in one of Stalin's prisons, to 
which he had been sentenced for his 
opposition to the theories of T. Lysenko. 


The slogan during World War II was, 
'Eliminate Waste'. It governed the activities 
of the Experimental Station as well as the 
activities of the Dominion Entomological 
Laboratory at Lethbridge. A series of 
Wartime Production publications and 
leaflets called for increased production of 
fiber flax, flax seed and other oil seeds, 
barley, and sheep and wool. Other 
publications outlined methods to control 
warble flies in cattle and described the 
efficient feeding of cattle and sheep. Still 
others described how to grow a wartime 
garden. These publications had to be 
written, and answers to questions provided, 
by scientists from the various agencies. 

Gasoline rationing was imposed soon 
after the outbreak of hostilities and lasted 
for the duration of the war. Tires were 
difficult to obtain. Cars and trucks could 
not be purchased, and those on inventory 
early in the war had to last until it ended. 
Fortunately, in 1941, two Ford cars were 
obtained in Regina and helped 
considerably to maintain adequate 
transportation. Nevertheless, travel was cut 
to essential trips throughout the war years. 

P. H. (Pat) Walker was one of the first 
staff members to join up, leaving the 
Station soon after the outbreak of war. 
Thus began the disruption of work caused 
by changes in staff that characterized the 
Station program throughout the war years. 
Also, appropriations were reduced, 
construction was stopped, and research 
programs were curtailed. 

Western Canada was selected almost 
immediately as the most suitable region in 
which to locate air training fields of the 
British Commonwealth Air Training 
Scheme. The region was chosen partly 
because of its flat terrain, but especially 
because of the long hours of sunshine and, 
hence, of good flying weather. Adequate 
security, yet relatively easy access to the 
conflict in Europe, were other 
considerations. R. W. Peake worked with 
Air Force contractors to ensure that soil 
drifting was kept under control during 
construction and that airports were 
revegetated as soon as possible. 

Throughout the war years, 
demonstrational and research work— the 
cultural phase of PFRA— continued to give 
guidance on moisture conservation and 
control of soil drifting. Public contacts were 
made largely through agricultural 
improvement associations, 32 of which 
were supervised from the Lethbridge 
Experimental Station by J. R. McFall in 
1941, or the district experiment substations, 

Pa Vt &rv 

Professor Dr. N. I. VAVILOV 

Member of the Academy of Sciences of USSR 
Director of the Institute of Plant Industry 


Herzen Str., 44 

1 of which were operating under the 
supervision of H. Chester in 1941. 

At Rolling Hills, PFRA brought in settlers 
from Saskatchewan and gave them 
irrigated land in exchange for the blown-out 
dryland farms they had left. Land leveling 
was an essential first step in the new 
irrigated area and a program was begun 
under J. Carol Johnson, who worked out of 
the Lethbridge Experimental Station. 
Equipment used was provided by the 
Station and PFRA, and the Eastern 
Irrigation District at Brooks cooperated 
where possible. 

Weed research, paid for from PFRA 
funds in the early forties, was conducted by 
J. J. P. Sexsmith. Experiments included the 
testing of ammonium sulfamate as a 
herbicide to control field bindweed and 
leafy spurge, and seeding of grasses and 
legumes to control leafy spurge and hoary 
cress on road allowances. Other weeds 
that caused concern included hedge 
bindweed and Russian knapweed. 

The Dalroy Substation was set up by Mr. 
Sexsmith as the place to study control of 
hoary cress under farm conditions. Studies 
were held in abeyance from 1 943 to 1 946 
because of the war. Then a 32-ha (80- 
acre) portion of the Dalroy farm was rented 
from the Canadian Pacific Railway, and 
cultural operations were carried on by 
Experimental Station crews under Mr. 
Sexsmith's direction. The appearance of 
2,4-D in 1945 revolutionized weed control. 
By 1975, some 60 chemical compounds 
were recommended for various weed and 
crop situations in Alberta. 

Horticulturists came and went during the 
war; they included Neil Bosomworth, Roma 
Ballhorn, and Emil T. Anderson. 

By late summer of 1 943, thought was 
being given to the postwar period. The 
Director of Experimental Farms, Dr. E. S. 
Archibald, circulated a memorandum to his 
superintendents asking them to consider 
postwar needs. Some superintendents 

treated the memorandum very casually and 
outlined requests for more machinery, a 
building or two, or minor additions to the 
staff. Dr. Fairfield, of the Lethbridge Station, 
took the memorandum very seriously 
indeed and arranged for a series of staff 
meetings to discuss postwar needs 
thoroughly. The memorandum that resulted 
was largely the work of Dr. Fairfield, Dr. 
Rasmussen, and Mr. Palmer, but other staff 
members contributed. 

In a covering letter dated September 29, 
1 943, to Dr. Archibald, Dr. Fairfield stated: 

'Attached is a memorandum 
summarizing ideas presented at several 
staff conferences in recent days dealing 
with the future development of the 
Lethbridge Station. This will serve as a 
basic outline of the form we think research 
should take and is being enclosed as it 
may provide the necessary justification for 
acquiring the C.P.R. [Home] farm at the 
present time. 

'In the memorandum we have gone into 
considerable detail as we felt that 
generalizations would not serve the 
purpose. We have attempted to show the 
need for increased research in the area 
and some of the main problems that await 
solutions. We have also outlined our 
personnel and laboratory requirements to 
indicate that we are ready to go ahead with 
development as soon as funds and 
personnel become available. It is obvious 
that a major increase in appropriation will 
be necessary if the proposed program is to 
be carried out. 

With reference to staff increases we 
would like to emphasize that most of the 
new men cannot be cheap men or new 
graduates but must be well trained men on 
a substantial salary. At this point we would 
like to reiterate our conviction that one of 
the weaknesses in our present organization 
is the lack of men with advanced training 
and this in turn reflects the relatively low 
salary scale which is in effect.' 


H. L. Seamans, Officer-in-Charge of the 
Dominion Entomological Laboratory, 
submitted a similar memorandum at about 
the same time in which he called for the 
establishment of a Cereal Breeding 
Laboratory at Lethbridge. 

In 1 944, a committee consisting of Dr. 
Rasmussen, Mr. Palmer, and Mr. Chester 
was set up to consider the problem of 
former employees who might soon return 
to the Station as war veterans seeking 
reemployment. The committee felt that 
former professional staff would probably 
want to return but thought that many 
former subprofessionals would seek other 
opportunities. Plans were made to absorb 
these men and women as they were 
discharged from the Armed Forces. 

The purchase of the C.P.Ft. Home Farm 
was the last land acquisition to be 
conducted by Dr. Fairfield and was 
designed to accommodate the expansion 
he knew had to come. Earlier, in 1 927, he 
had negotiated the purchase of the 42-ha 
(103-acre) parcel lying north of the Jail 
Lake and, in 1 939, the purchase of 32 ha 
(80 acres) at the northwest corner of the 
Station that were known as the Cultural 
Plots and the North Forty. Both were 
purchased from the Canadian Pacific 

The parcel in question was known as the 
C.P.R. Home Farm and was kept to 
overwinter horses that were used during 
the summer on various parts of the 

irrigation project. It comprised 1 75 ha (435 
acres) and was all used for hay. There 
were some buildings on the property: a 
residence, barn, two-car garage, storeroom, 
granary, bunkhouse, boardinghouse, ice 
house, and machine shop. 

The initial offer to sell appeared in a 
letter from the Canadian Pacific Railway to 
the Station on January 6, 1 937. In it, 
railway officials explained that they 
intended to sell their irrigated land in the 
Lethbridge region and wanted to give the 
Experimental Station the first chance at 

The matter seemed to remain dormant 
until September 1942 when the railway 
company received a definite offer from a 
Mr. Hunsaker to purchase the entire 
property. Dr. Fairfield was told of this and 
in reply on April 13, 1943, stated: 'I would 
say that we are even more anxious than 
ever to purchase the Home Farm as an 
extension of our work here. As irrigation 
develops in the province the importance of 
carrying on livestock experiments is 
becoming more and more apparent.' 

Dr. Fairfield went on to say, Two or 
three months ago the possibility of 
obtaining a small ranching area for our 
sheep experiments was brought to our 
attention. It is a 5,000-acre [2025-ha] tract 
on the broken land on the river front 
southwest of Rainier in the E.I.D. I think 
this deal is about concluded but while it is 
pending I was rather on the spot in pushing 

■\ . v Vv7 i 


arrangements for a deal for the Home 
Farm. The little ranch is a minor matter 
because it will only involve about $12,000 
for the purchase and it contains a 200-acre 
[80-ha] water right in addition to other 
lands that can be irrigated. The big 
advantage of obtaining this acreage of 
ranch land is that we can carry out sheep 
breeding experiments under ranch 
conditions rather than under semi-farm and 
ranch conditions as we have been doing in 
the past utilizing the forest reserve as we 
have for our summer pasture.' The 
property was to become the Scandia 
Sheep Station. 

Correspondence among representatives 
of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the 
Experimental Station, and the Ottawa 
headquarters continued. In August 1 943, 
Dr. E. S. Archibald conceived the idea that 
the Veterinary Research Station, Science 
Service, located on the river bottom land 
west of Lethbridge, might want to move 
onto the C.P.R. Home Farm property if it 
were purchased by the government. 
Science Service officials were receptive to 
the idea and this became a major reason 
for the purchase of the property. 

On September 1 2, 1 944, word was 
received from Ottawa that an Order-in- 
Council had authorized purchase of the 
C.P.R. Home Farm at a price of $30,000. 
Transfer of title appears to have taken 
place in March 1945. 

About 1944, Dr. T. M. Stevenson, 
Dominion Agrostologist. and Dr. L. H. 
Newman. Dominion Cerealist began to 
insist that more forage and cereal research 
should be conducted at the Lethbridge 
Station. Previously, both of these areas of 
research were the responsibility of W. D. 
Hay, who also studied various specialty 
crops. It was decided in 1944 to combine 
the PFRA Regrassing Program with the 
forage studies and to create a new Forage 
Crops Section. R. W. Peake was placed in 
charge, assisted by N. A. Skoglund. who 
had recently transferred to Lethbridge from 

Ram sale at the Lethbridge Experimental 
Station in 1942. Dr. K Rasmussen is at the 
back of the pen in breeches; next to him is J. 
R. McFall. 


Regrassing studies entered a new phase 
with the setting up of a grazing study with 
cows and calves on crested wheatgrass 
pasture at Cessford. Eventually, the results 
showed that crested wheatgrass produced 
about three times as much animal gain as 
native range, the first time that this had 
been demonstrated in Western Canada. 
The experiment was not well designed, 
however, and results were never 
adequately reported or publicized. 

Work with bees was discontinued in 
1945 when Harry T. Luther retired. The 
first experimental bees, two colonies, had 
been obtained in 1914. The aim was to 
determine the feasibility of keeping bees in 
the Lethbridge region and to work out 
elementary problems of management. By 
1 945, beekeeping was an established 
industry in the region. The main reason for 
discontinuing the work was the difficulty of 
getting a trained entomologist to conduct 
the type of research that was needed. 

Labor problems plagued the Station 
during the war as men were continually 
leaving for service in the Armed Forces. 
Effective use was made of women, both in 
the office and field. Jean Ringland and 
Beth Fairfield were the only ladies working 
at the Experimental Station during the 
thirties, but women were employed in 
increasing numbers during and immediately 
after the war. 

The close relationship that existed 
between the Experimental Station and the 

Provincial Jail seemed to end about the 
mid-forties. It was based originally on the 
personal friendship between Dr. J. H. 
Rivers, first Warden of the Jail, and Dr. 
Fairfield, Superintendent of the Station; and 
between Thomas Smith, the Jail foreman, 
and John Milroy, the Station foreman. The 
Station tapped the Jail's water supply and 
used its electricity. The establishments 
exchanged equipment. For many years, a 
substantial part of the Station's hay 
requirements were purchased from the Jail. 
When work was pressing on the Station, 
gangs of prisoners from the Jail were 
always available to help. Many routine 
tasks, such as cleaning Station ditches in 
spring or cultivating among trees in 
summer, were performed by prisoners. In 
retrospect, it was probably a form of 
exploitation of people who were powerless 
to resist it, but prisoners were treated with 
respect and usually earned themselves a 
few cigarettes. 

Dr. Fairfield resigned on V-J Day, August 
14, 1945. He dictated his letter of 
resignation to his daughter, Beth, as soon 
as he heard the news. He had been asked 
to stay on as Superintendent during the 
war although, at 70, he was past the 
normal retirement age. He was tired and ill 
at war's end and, after 39 years as 
Superintendent, he was glad to give up the 
command of the Experimental Station to 
his successor. His resignation took effect 
immediately, and he was granted a 

Office staff, about 1942. From left to right: 
Jean (Scotty) Watson, Leone McClellan, Jean 
E. Buchan, and Marion Hammond. 

6-month leave of absence, going on 
superannuation in February 1946. Mr. A. E. 
Palmer, assistant superintendent in charge 
of Field Husbandry, was appointed Officer- 
in-Charge to succeed Dr. Fairfield and was 
later confirmed as the second 
Superintendent of the Lethbridge 
Experimental Station. 

Dr. Fairfield was the 'Father of the 
Lethbridge Experimental Station'. He was a 
practical visionary who saw the potential of 
southern Alberta, recognized the problems 
that required solution, and guided the staff 
toward effective approaches to those 
solutions. He had the rare ability to develop 
men and to give them leadership, 
encouragement, and quiet direction when it 
was needed. 

Employees of the Dominion Experimental 
Station and Dominion Entomological 
Laboratory who served with the Canadian 
Armed Forces during World War II were: 
Allen, T. D. McFadden, A. R. 

Anderson, D. T. McVeeters, J. 

Black, James McVeeters, R. 

Boulton, R. H. Neilson, C. L. 

Buchan, Jean E. Noss, N. H. 

Callahan, C. O'Brien, C. Delmar 

Chapman, Frank O'Brien, Clayton P. 

Coyle, Helen B. Phalen, S. W. 

Coyle, J., Jr. Reid, J. L. 

Currie, Alex Robins, G. 

Gurr, A. F. Sexsmith, J. J. P. 

Hagell, G. E. Smith, A. Douglas 

Hagell, R. A. Smith, Albert D. 

Harrison, C. G. Smith, Frank M. 

Hendrick, L. J. Smith, J. Douglas 

Holmes, N. D. Smith, Percy 

Hurtig, Henry Smith, Richard T. 

Irwin, D. H. Smith, William C. 

Johnston, Alex Thorpe, G. R. 

Kloppenborg, N. E. Walker, P. H. 
Krogman, K. K. Watts, W. R. 

Maloney, A. J. Winters, D. R. 

Milroy, William Woolliscroft, A. H. 

MacNaughton, W. N. Woolliscroft, H. G. 


Chapter 8. Entomology 

The 'Bug Lab', Dominion Entomological 
Laboratory, about 1920. 

In 1 944, the idea of a large Science 
Service research facility at Lethbridge was 
discussed. It was to include the Dominion 
Entomological Laboratory as well as new 
sections of plant physiology, plant 
pathology, chemistry, and other disciplines. 
L. A. Jacobson became actively involved in 
the program and visited laboratories in 
Canada and the United States to get ideas 
for the Lethbridge establishment. Because 
the creation of the Science Service 
Laboratory in 1 949 marked the end of the 
Dominion Entomological Laboratory as a 
separate entity, this seems a fitting place to 
discuss Entomology at Lethbridge. 

In 1913, the first laboratory for 
investigating insect problems in Alberta 
was established in Lethbridge, and was 
housed in a corner room on the second 
floor of an implement shed on the 
Dominion Experimental Station. It was one 
of a series of small laboratories established 
in all provinces except Prince Edward 
Island between 1911 and 1919 by Dr. 

Charles Gordon Hewitt, Dominion 
Entomologist. There was no equipment 
although there were plenty of problems. 
For example, the first serious outbreak of 
the pale western cutworm occurred in 
southern Alberta in 191 1 . Ottawa 
entomologists recommended that farmers 
cultivate out all weeds before moth flights. 
But the pale western cutworm lays its eggs 
in loose soil and not, like related insects, on 
the leaves of plants. The Ottawa 
recommendation was disastrous, making it 
obvious that studies were badly needed in 
the regions where insect problems were 
located. The Dominion Entomology 
Laboratory, Lethbridge, was one answer. 
Mr. E. H. Strickland was sent out from 
Ottawa and appointed Officer-in-Charge of 
the new laboratory on March 18, 1913. He 
was supplied with a twin-cylinder Indian 
motorcycle and within a year had traveled 
16 000 km (10,000 miles). In 1915, he 
obtained a second motorcycle complete 
with a sidecar. His estimates that year 


amounted to $990, which included $525 for 
construction of a two-roomed laboratory 
that was built on the grounds of the 
Experimental Station. It was completed by 
mid-June and was for many years the 
permanent research establishment of the 
Division of Entomology in Lethbridge. 

One of the first problems to be 
encountered by Mr. Strickland was 'an 
eelworm [nematode] attack on winter 
wheat' in the Cowley - Pincher Creek 
district. It had first become serious in 1 908 
and had been very severe in 1912. He 
devised control measures in 1913 but, by 
1914, concluded that the causal organism 
was not a nematode. He did find mites on 
affected plants. The condition grew less 
serious in 1915 and had disappeared by 
1916. Forty years later, the disease was to 
be rediscovered, identified as wheat streak 
mosaic, and shown to be transmitted by a 
species of mite. The controls then 
advocated were identical to those that Mr. 
Strickland had recommended in 1913. 

His next problem was the pale western 
cutworm. The first recorded outbreak 
occurred in 191 1 and, in 1912, 16 200 ha 
(40,000 acres) of wheat were destroyed in 
southern Alberta. Cutworm damage was 
worse in 1914, and Mr. Strickland observed 
that, 'Where there is much summerfallow, 
such fields suffer first.' While stationed at 
Lethbridge, he visited Mr. F. Hova Wolley- 
Dod of Midnapore who had an excellent 
collection of noctuids, the family to which 
the cutworm belonged. Poison baits were 
tested, but the cutworm's habit of feeding 
below ground defeated those efforts except 
when bait was harrowed in on small 
patches. Mr. Strickland did develop a trap 
for adult cutworms and devised a chart that 
showed when it was safe to reseed. 

Mr. Strickland joined the Canadian Army 
in late summer of 1916 and served in 
France with the University of Alberta 
Battalion. He returned to Canada in the 
spring of 1919 and resumed his study of 
the pale western cutworm. But, by 1 920, 
Mr. Strickland was so discouraged that he 
would '. . . have acted as assistant to 
anyone with the necessary experience and 
ability to find a control for the cutworm, 
which brings so much personal ruin to 
many farmers.' 

Fortunately, a person with the necessary 
ability appeared in H. L. (Hod) Seamans, 
who had studied the pale western cutworm 
in Montana. Mr. Seamans was appointed 
Officer-in-Charge of the laboratory on 
March 28, 1921, after Mr. Strickland had 
accepted a position with the University of 

Dr. E. H. Strickland, first Officer-in-Charge of 
the Dominion Entomological Laboratory, 
Lethbridge, 1913-1921. 

Dr. H. L. Seamans, Officer-in-Charge of the 
Dominion Entomological Laboratory, 
Lethbridge, 1921-1944. 

Alberta as professor of entomology and 
head of the new Entomology Department. 
Mr. Strickland stayed in Lethbridge during 
the summer of 1921 to help combat a 
grasshopper outbreak that had been 
serious since 1919. This experience 
prompted Mr. Strickland and Mr. Seamans 
to pressure the Alberta Government into 
passing the Pest Control Act, now the 
Agricultural Pests Act. 

The Entomological Laboratory moved 
from the Experimental Station to the Post 
Office about this time, because personnel 
needed more space than was available in 
the two-roomed facility built in 1915. 

Mr. Seamans, more than Mr. Strickland, 
left his imprint on the nature of the 
Entomological Laboratory and set the style 
of excellence and informality that it never 
lost. He came to Lethbridge to seek a 
solution to the problem of the pale western 
cutworm, then menacing prairie farmers. 
He developed methods of forecasting 
outbreaks and cultural methods of control. 
His solution, devised in 1921, was for 
farmers to stay off summerfallow during the 
insect's egg-laying season of late summer 
and early fall. This let the soil form a crust, 
which adult females of the pale western 
cutworm could not penetrate; hence, they 
could not lay their eggs. For this 
contribution, Mr. Seamans was lauded on 

the floor of the House of Commons in 
Ottawa and, 1 7 years later, was presented 
with the Gold Medal of the Professional 
Institute of the Public Service of Canada. 

In 1 927, the wheat stem sawfly project 
was started. The Gilbert strawburner was 
tested at Rockyford, but without much 
success. Trap crops were assessed, the 
effect of weather on sawfly activity was 
studied, and a parasite that affected the 
sawfly was investigated in the laboratory. 

Early workers noted that thick-walled 
durum wheats were less severely damaged 
by sawflies than were hard red spring 
wheats. H. J. Kemp of Swift Current, in 
1 929, obtained 38 bread wheats from New 
Zealand; one of these was S-615, which he 
found to be highly resistant. Mr. Kemp 
crossed S-615 with the rust-resistant 
variety Apex, a cross that led eventually to 
the variety Rescue. In 1932, a meeting was 
held at Saskatoon between the 
entomologists at Lethbridge and the 
cerealists from Swift Current. Dr. C. W. 
Farstad, who had been conducting sawfly 
research since 1 930, became responsible 
for the entomological aspects. 


Wheat stem sawtly laying eggs in a wheat 

A. W. Piatt was placed in charge of the 
sawfly-resistant wheat breeding project in 
1938. He made crosses similar to those of 
Mr. Kemp as well as others, including 
S-615 with Thatcher. In 1946, the first 
sawfly-resistant wheat was released and by 

1951 it was grown on nearly 3 million ha (7 
million acres). This was Rescue, so named 
after a drunk in a hotel corridor was heard 
singing Rescue the Perishing'. The cross 
of S-615 with Thatcher was released in 

1 952 as Chinook. 
Grasshoppers, another subject of 

investigation, had been crop pests in 
Alberta since settlement of the region. 
Starting in 1 932, systematic surveys were 
carried out, first under the direction of R. 
M. White from 1934 to 1946, then under L. 
G. Putnam from 1 946 to 1 949, and later 
under D. S. Smith from 1 949 onward. 
Since 1 969, the survey has been 
conducted by provincial government 
personnel in each municipality or county, 
with some assistance from the Lethbridge 
Research Station. 

In 1934, laboratory personnel involved in 
grasshopper control investigated the use of 
aeroplanes for spreading poison bait more 
quickly and more efficiently than ground 
rigs did. It was concluded that aeroplanes 
were not yet mechanically reliable. 

In 1 935, the grasshopper program was 
reorganized at a meeting of the 
Entomological Branch Committee on 
Grasshopper Research; the purpose was to 
try and discover what caused outbreaks of 
the insects. At the time of writing, the 
causes had still not been found. In 1948, a 
Cooperative Grasshopper Conference held 
in Saskatoon debated whether control 
products should be shifted from poison bait 
to sprays. Chlordane was available, 
heptachlor had been tested, and DDT had 
been on the market since 1 946. Sprays 
were decided upon, and the era of poison 
baits for grasshopper control ended. 

Even in the early years of the laboratory, 
the research involved many phases of 
entomology. Various formulations of baits 
were tested against grasshoppers and 
cutworms. A fungus disease was tested for 
control of cutworms in 1 923. and control by 
trapping adults with baits and lights was 
attempted as early as 1921. In 1921, the 
attractiveness of various colored lights to 
the moths was tested. In 1925, a colony of 
bumble bees was studied in an artificial 

In 1 932, other projects were taken up. 
The nutritional values of various plants for 
cutworms, the relation of soil acidity to 


selection of egg beds by grasshoppers, and 
the lack of predation on grasshopper eggs 
by crickets were all reported in 1 933. The 
effects of temperatures on diapause in the 
sawfly were studied in 1930 and in 1934. In 
the same year, L. A. Jacobson began 
research on the Say stink bug, a new pest 
of wheat. Control of the pale western 
cutworm by starvation was tested in 1 936. 
The cold hardiness of a few insects was 
tested, and the effects of defoliation of 
wheat by grasshoppers were studied by 

The greatest changes in entomology at 
Lethbridge occurred in the decade starting 
in 1 940. By the end of that period, seven of 
the prewar staff had either resigned or 
been transferred and 1 7 new entomologists 
had been appointed. Statistical analysis 
came into use, and the research became 
less subjective. Specialized fields such as 
cytogenetics and insect physiology 
received more emphasis. In 1 944, Paris 
green was still being recommended for 
control of the beet webworm but, in the 
same year, DDT was tested on aphids, 
cabbage worms, flea beetles, and lygus 

In the next decade, new insecticides 
proliferated. The entomologists appeared 
to have been so successful that they were 
no longer needed. The work on alternative 
methods of control continued, however, and 
it was later to receive more public 
acceptance when Rachel Carson aroused 
the public to the dangers of chemical 
residues. The role of stem solidness in 
sawfly resistance was disputed and 
confirmed. The possibilities of increased 

legume seed production came closer to 

The research of the laboratory was not 
limited to the empirical or the applied. It 
provided important new knowledge on the 
life history, ecology, and habits of many 
insects, on insect nutrition, on diapause, on 
pollination, on the nature of cold hardiness, 
on the cytogenetics of wheat, on resistance 
of plants to insects, on bioassay of 
insecticides, and on sex attractants. 

The late forties was the start of a golden 
age for entomology in the Department of 
Agriculture. The number of entomologists 
at Lethbridge reached a peak in about 
1 949 when 20 were on staff. This was due 
to the influence of Dr. K. W. Neatby, 
Director of Science Service, who had the 
ability to persuade people of the value of 
science in agriculture. The aim of the 
expansion at Lethbridge was to develop 
teams to conduct research in depth. 

The laboratory entered a new phase in 
May 1 949. At that time, it was transferred 
to new quarters next to the Experimental 
Station, and became a part of the new 
Science Service Laboratory. The transfer 
was made physically by the younger 
entomologists, who loaded the furniture 
and moved it to the new quarters. The last 
to leave the Post Office building was L. A. 
Jacobson, who finally accepted the move 
he had helped to instigate, when his desk 
was moved out from in front of him. 


Mr. G. F. Manson, Officer-in-Charge of the 

Dominion Entomological Laboratory, 

Lethbridge, 1944-1948. 


Dr. C. 'W Farstad, Officer-in-Charge of the 

Dominion Entomological Laboratory, 1948- 



Chapter 9. Postwar Expansion 


Mr. R. H. Painter, Officer-in-Charge of the 

Livestock Insect Laboratory, 1946-1951 . 


Dr. W. C. Broadfoot, Director of the Science 

Service Laboratory, Lethbridge, 1949-1959. 

The expected postwar expansion 
actually began in late 1 944, when it 
became obvious that the end of the war 
was in sight. The predicted depression 
failed to materialize. Dr. W. H. Fairfield was 
still Superintendent but he was soon to be 
replaced by Mr. A. E. Palmer, head of Field 
Husbandry, who had come to the Station in 
1921. Expansion occurred in three main 
areas at Lethbridge. First, it was necessary 
to house and find more staff for the newly 
created Livestock Insect Unit of the 
Dominion Entomological Laboratory, later 
known as the Livestock Insect Laboratory. 
Second, plans had to be made to house 
and staff the proposed Science Service 
Laboratory. And third, veterans had to be 
reemployed upon their return to the 
Experimental Station, and more personnel 
had to be appointed and accommodated. 

The Livestock Insect Laboratory 

The warble fly control campaign started 
by the Dominion Department of Agriculture 
in 1 942 was indirectly responsible for the 
establishment of the Livestock Insect 
Laboratory at Lethbridge. Before the war, 
although controls for livestock insects were 
available, producers were lackadaisical in 
applying them because losses were of an 
intangible nature. The war brought higher 
prices for livestock, and the warble fly 
campaign convinced producers that losses, 
though intangible, were important and that 
more attention should be given to the 
control of livestock pests. The result was a 
demand for more information on control 

To keep abreast of the increased interest 
of producers, the Division of Entomology 
had to expand research and experimental 
studies. To do this, a laboratory for 
livestock pests was needed in the prairie 
region. Lethbridge was selected as the 
best location and the Experimental Station 
offered a portion of the C.P.R. Home Farm, 
including the buildings, for the 
establishment of a new laboratory. Thus, 
the Division of Entomology acquired some 
15 buildings and 60 ha (150 acres) of land. 

In 1947, the buildings at No. 8 Bombing 
and Gunnery School, Royal Canadian Air 
Force, at Lethbridge were turned over to 
Crown Assets Corporation for disposal. 
Negotiations were started immediately to 
secure two buildings, known as H huts, to 
be used as a laboratory and housing at the 
Livestock Insect Laboratory. 

The laboratory was ready for occupancy 
in the spring of 1948 and the suites were 
finished by the fall. In the meantime, PFRA 

had fenced the entire holding, cross-fenced 
it to provide small pastures for 
experimental stock, and constructed a five- 
pen pole corral and chute. Mr. R. H. 
Painter was placed in charge. 

Assembling the staff was a difficult 
problem. Mr. J. J. R. McLintock was 
secured in May 1 948 from the Manitoba 
Department of Health and Public Welfare, 
where he had been working on western 
equine encephalitis, and he was placed in 
charge of the research program. W. A. 
Nelson was transferred in 1 948 from the 
Dominion Entomological Laboratory and 
was assigned to biological studies on 
sheep keds. K. R. Depner, a recent 
graduate from the University of Alberta 
was assigned to biological studies on horn 
flies in 1950. 

In a short time, much was accomplished. 
Excellent research was done on the warble 
fly, particularly in relation to activities of the 
grubs, distribution of species, the 
importance of parasites and predators, and 
fundamental studies on pupation periods. 
Studies were carried out on adult behavior 
of sheep keds and the effect of the insect 
on the host, particularly in relation to 
nutrition. In horn fly studies, fundamental 
preliminary work was carried out on 
behavior, diapause, and bacterial 
symbionts, the last in cooperation with the 
Department of Bacteriology at the 
University of Alberta. 

Problems arose in the administration of 
the new laboratory. At first Mr. Painter was 
given a free hand. Then, in late 1950, F. 
Grant Wagner was appointed as an 
administrative officer, and it was decided 
that he would administer the Livestock 
Insect Laboratory jointly with the Science 
Service Laboratory, under Dr. W. C. 
Broadfoot's direction. In 1952, the 
Livestock Insect Laboratory was renamed 
the Veterinary-Medical Entomology Section 
of the Science Service Laboratory. Dr. W. 
O. Haufe was brought in in 1 953 as 
coordinator of the livestock insects 
research program. Later, he became head 
of the Veterinary-Medical Entomology 
Section when Mr. Painter became liaison 
officer (livestock insects) to the four 
western provinces. 

The Science Service Laboratory 

The idea of a large Science Service 
research facility at Lethbridge was 
discussed, and briefs and memoranda 
flowed back and forth between Lethbridge 
and Ottawa from 1 944 until about 1 946. It 
was not until the appointment of Dr. K. W. 


|ssl . 1 m E U t 

Neatby as Director of Science Service that 
the concept began to receive the support it 
deserved. Dr. Neatby believed in 
cooperative research and saw an 
opportunity at Lethbridge to bring together 
a group of agricultural scientists to solve 
common problems efficiently. 

Sod was turned for the new Science 
Service Laboratory, later called the Biology 
Building, at Lethbridge in late March 1947. 

Dr. W. C. Broadfoot arrived during the 
summer. He had served as a plant 
pathologist at the Dominion Plant 
Pathology Laboratory at Edmonton from 
1 928 to 1 946, when he was placed in 
charge of the Seedborne Disease 
Laboratory in Ottawa. He left the position 
to become Officer-in-Charge of the Science 
Service Laboratory at Lethbridge. 

By fall of 1948, buildings were all on their 
foundations, space had been allocated, 
partitions constructed, light, gas, and water 
installed, and a start made on applying 
plaster and stucco. A heating boiler had 
been obtained from the airport at Bowden 
and was in operation for the first cold 

A front wing of the building was rushed 
to completion to accommodate the Plant 
Pathology Laboratory under Dr. M. W. 
Cormack, who had been in Lethbridge 
since July. Dr. Cormack and his staff, 
consisting of J. Eric Moffatt and later of Dr. 
M. N. Grant and Frank R. Harper, moved in 

during early December and began to 
organize the laboratory. The Cereal 
Breeding Laboratory of the Experimental 
Farms Service under A. W. Piatt was 
transferred from Swift Current to 
Lethbridge in November 1 948 and 
occupied another front wing of the main 
building. (It should be explained that the 
term Laboratory' became a fad at 
Lethbridge in the late forties and fifties. 
Although most units known by that name 
were simply sections of the Science 
Service Laboratory or the Experimental 
Station, some men in charge seemed to 
think their Laboratory was, or might 
become, a separate facility.) 

The Field Crop Insects Laboratory 
(formerly called the Dominion 
Entomological Laboratory), under Dr. C. W. 
Farstad, moved into the new building in 
May 1949. Thus it finally vacated the upper 
floor of the Post Office building, which had 
been headquarters for entomological 
research in southern Alberta since shortly 
after World War I. Later in the spring, Dr. D. 
W. A. Roberts arrived from the University 
of Toronto to take charge of the Plant 
Physiology Laboratory. Preliminary studies 
were started in the field and greenhouse on 
growth relationships in winter wheat. In 
1 950, a Chemistry Laboratory was 
organized with Robert Kasting in charge. 

In 1950 also, a regional library was 
organized under Miss Bertha M. Pehrson, 

Construction of the biology building, Science 
Service Laboratory, in 1948. 

who was transferred to Lethbridge from 
Ottawa. It was designed to serve both 
Science Service and the Experimental 
Station as well as other agricultural 
research institutions throughout the region. 

A joint Experimental Station - Science 
Service Photographic Laboratory was 
organized and housed in a couple of 
basement rooms of the new building. It 
was headed by N. E. Kloppenborg, who 
had been the unofficial Experimental 
Station photographer from 1 934 to 1 941 
and its official photographer from 1 946 to 

A bus was purchased to transport 
employees of the Experimental Station and 
Science Service Laboratory to and from the 
city. The first operator was G. D. (Jack) 
Parker, followed by Tom Forth. These men 
acted also as couriers, picking up mail and 
local purchases and doing other tasks as 


Lethbridge Experimental Station 

There was considerable expansion of the 
Lethbridge Experimental Station in the 
immediate postwar years. 

A Wool Laboratory was started in 1 944 
and, with the help of German prisoners of 
war from the nearby internment camp, was 
completed in 1946. S. B. Slen arrived in 
January 1 946 to take charge of the new 

In 1 945, Frank Whiting arrived at the 
Station to take charge of a proposed 
Animal Nutrition Laboratory. For various 
reasons, the laboratory was not completed 
until 1 948. With his own experiments and 
the additional data from animal husbandry 
files, Dr. Whiting began a prolific publishing 
career. Later, he and Dr. Slen cooperated 
in conducting and publishing a variety of 
studies. Drs. Slen and Whiting were the 
first scientists at the Experimental Station 
to take research publication seriously and 
to turn out any appreciable volume of work. 
Before their time, the publication of 
anything except extension types of 
information was actively discouraged by 
Ottawa officials. 

A Plant Processing and Sugar Beet 
Laboratory, later called the Food 
Processing Laboratory, was completed in 
1 950. It was established in response to a 
greatly increased interest in vegetable, 
canning, and other specialty crops 
throughout the irrigated areas of southern 
Alberta. I. L. Nonnecke arrived to take 
charge of horticulture, assisted by W. E. 
Torfason. G. A. Kemp, plant breeder, and 
George C. Strachan, food technologist, 
arrived later and completed the horticulture 


Barn dance at opening of the new dairy 

barn, 1951. Dr. Ruby I. Larson is preparing 

to milk the 'cow' while Dr. D. W. A. Roberts is 

holding its tail. 


The forage crew harvesting alfalfa plots, 

about 1950. James Black is operating the 

mower and Dr. M. W. Cormack is taking 

notes in the background. 


An entry in the Lethbridge Exhibition parade 

in the early fifties; teamster is Tom Zubach. 


A Forage Crops Section was organized 
in 1 944. Personnel occupied a couple of 
rooms in the main office and maintained a 
room in the PFRA building for seed stocks 
and equipment. These quarters became 
inadequate after the war, and R. W. Peake, 
the section head, cast about for additional 
space. By this time, the Station horses, 
which had been the main motive power, 
were being replaced by tractors and the 
horse barn was partly vacant. It was 
divided in half by a partition so that the 
Forage Crops Section occupied the south 
end and the remaining horses the north 
end. An in-joke at the time was that the 
horses' heads had been removed from the 
south end of the barn. Work on the Forage 
Crops Laboratory, as it was called, was 
supervised in part by James Black, formerly 
a teamster but taken on as plot foreman by 
the Forage Crops Section on his discharge 
from the Canadian Army. Eventually, the 
horses were removed completely and the 
forage crops staff took over the entire 
building. A lean-to was constructed to store 
and dry samples. A major project at the 
time was to breed an alfalfa that was 
resistant to bacterial wilt. 

Work of the Forage Crops Laboratory 
expanded after World War II when it was 
decided to undertake grazing studies in the 
Fescue Grassland vegetation area of 
southwestern Alberta. In 1 949, the Alberta 
government leased to the federal 
government 390 ha (960 acres) of range 
for a token $1 a year. The new substation 
was called the Stavely Grassland 
Substation and Alex Johnston was placed 
in charge. Fields were fenced, stock 
watering dams constructed, and 
headquarters built in 1 949 and 1 950, and 
52 yearling heifers were obtained on loan 
from the Burns Company Flying E Ranch 
for use on experimental fields. Carrying 
capacity and other studies were started. 
When the Flying E Ranch was sold in 
about 1951, the cattle on the Substation 
were purchased by Warren C. Cooper of 
Nanton. Mr. Cooper's cattle have been 
used on the Substation since that time. 
About 1 965, the name of the Substation 
was changed to the Range Research 
Substation, Stavely, Alta. 

The Maloneys retired in 1 946 after 
having served an estimated 700,000 meals 
to Station employees over 34 years. They 
were succeeded by Mr. and Mrs. John 
Peebles; Mrs. Peebles operated the 
boardinghouse while Mr. Peebles acted as 
Station courier. The bunkhouse was 
enlarged in 1 948 to accommodate the 

large number of subprofessional 
employees then being taken on. In 1 948, 
also, the Station obtained natural gas and 
replaced the various coal and oil stoves 
and furnaces that had been used in its 

W. L. Jacobson, who had been 
seconded to PFRA in 1 935, returned to the 
Station in 1 949 to take charge of irrigation 
investigations. One of his first steps was to 
obtain a lease on 8 ha (20 acres) of 
irrigated land at Taber, where he set up the 
Taber Irrigation Substation. 

Soon, it was found that the experimental 
area at Taber was too small. Also, the high 
water table there could distort results of 
the studies on consumptive use of water, 
which were an important part of the 
experimental program. And, finally, it was 
concluded that irrigation studies should be 
done in the driest area available, and that 
Taber was borderline in this respect. As a 
result, in 1953, the Substation was moved 
to Vauxhall where it occupied quarters with 
the PFRA Drainage Division under E. A. 
Olafson, and later Dr. C. D. Stewart. The 
new Substation was equipped largely with 
buildings and material from the Scandia 
Sheep Station and the Taber Irrigation 

The machine shop in the back of the 
PFRA building at Lethbridge proved 
completely inadequate after the war. D. T. 
Anderson, agricultural engineer, assisted by 
E. W. Thurston and others, asked for better 
accommodations and, in 1951, a shop of 
cinder brick construction was built. The 
new shop included stores, space for a 
plumber and electrician, a carpentry shop, 
and a machine shop. It was enlarged 
considerably in 1 962. 

As early as February 1 948, Mr. Palmer 
took steps to acquire more dry land for 
experimental plots. A tract of land lying to 
the northwest of the Station had been 
acquired early in the war by the Dominion 
government and used for a prisoner-of-war 
camp. Some 1 5,000 German prisoners of 
war were interned there. Dr. V. A. Wood, 
Director of Lands for Alberta said in a letter 
to Mr. Palmer in February 1 948 that the 
land would be retained by the province 
until buildings and equipment were 
disposed of; then it would be sold. In 1950, 
38.8 ha (95.76 acres) of this land were 
purchased by the Experimental Station. 
First known as the North West Hundred, it 
soon acquired the name, The P.O.W. 

Hours of work for prevailing-rate 
employees were changed after the war. 
The practice since 1 906 had been to work 

10 hours a day, with 9 hours on Saturdays. 
After 1 946, hours were changed to 1 
hours daily and 5 hours on Saturdays. The 
Horticulture Section argued against this, 
claiming that they could not complete their 
program of work with the shortened hours. 
And, in fact, they continued to work a 
9-hour Saturday for another year or so. By 
the mid-fifties, the Station was on an 8-hour 
day with 4 hours on Saturdays and, by the 
late fifties, the 5-day, 40-hour work-week 
was instituted. These figures are, however, 
approximations because the Station staff 
has always been plagued by the problem 
of having different hours of work for 
different classes of employees. Generally, 
the lower the classification, the longer the 
hours of work. 

A. E. Palmer guided the Experimental 
Station through the exciting postwar 
expansion period and directed its research 
program for 8 years. During that time, he 
was involved in the expansion of irrigation 
in the region, particularly in an assessment 
of the abortive Red Deer diversion scheme, 
the successful St. Mary River development 
project, and the Vauxhall -Hays expansion. 
He retired from the Lethbridge 
Experimental Station in 1 953 and was 
succeeded by Mr. Herbert Chester, who 
had come to Lethbridge as illustration 
stations supervisor in 1934. 

Mr. Palmer was internationally known as 
an agricultural scientist. He possessed 
compassion, tact, and patience and was 
well suited to direct research scientists. His 
speciality was irrigation, yet his fame lay in 
his contribution to dryland agriculture. 
Unlike many people he retained an 
unshakable faith in f he future of Canada's 
Palliser Triangle during its most difficult 
period, and was credited with being one of 
the six men who did most to save the 
agriculture of the western prairies during 
the thirties. As James H. Gray pointed out 
in his book Men Against The Desert, Mr. 
Palmer had a respect for the soil that 
bordered on reverence. He had, Mr. Gray 
went on to say, a sense of serving God by 
his husbandmanship of the earth. 


Chapter 10. The Manyberries Range Experiment Station 

The Manyberries Range Experiment 
Station throughout most of its history was 
more closely linked administratively to the 
Swift Current Experimental Station than to 
the Lethbridge Experimental Station. Yet 
the relationships among scientists at 
Manyberries and Lethbridge were always 
close. In 1 964, when it was decided to 
unite the Manyberries Station with a larger 
facility, the Lethbridge Research Station 
was considered to be the appropriate one. 

Before 1912, the beef industry on the 
open range was thriving, but little 
information had been recorded about the 
best methods of using rangeland. When 
the range became overgrazed in one place, 
ranchers could simply move their cattle to 
a new area. Once settlers arrived, however, 
and the open range was split up into 
closed lease-lands, some areas became 
overgrazed. By 1 925, a demand arose for 
experimental work. After a series of 
meetings between personnel of the 
Experimental Farms Service and 
representatives of stockmen's associations, 
it was decided to undertake experiments to 
obtain information on how to improve the 
carrying capacity of the range. 

The Experimental Farms Service ordered 
L. B. Thomson and S. E. (Doc) Clarke, 
stationed at Swift Current, to make a 
reconnaissance survey of the rangelands in 
southern Alberta and southern 
Saskatchewan in 1 926. They studied 

Dr. L. B. Thomson, Superintendent of the 
Manyberries Range Experiment Station. 

conditions on the various ranches to learn 
what steps might be taken to help solve 
the problems in the various grazing areas. 

They found that problems were more 
acute in the drier parts of the range than in 
the moister parts. They decided that 
experimental work should concentrate on 
the dry area, with the idea of branching out 
to other grazing areas as work progressed. 
As purchasing and equipping an 
Experimental Ranch appeared to be too 
costly a venture, they decided that it would 
be more economical and more useful to 
cooperate with some rancher of long 
experience. Gilchrist Brothers Limited of 
Vidora, Sask., offered their cooperation. 

The area selected was 6315 ha (15,590 
acres) in Township 2, Range 4 (west of the 
4th meridian), in Alberta where there were 
suitable sites for watering facilities. The 
Experimental Farms Service agreed to pay 
for the lease; to construct all necessary 
corrals, fences, and buildings; and to 
provide scales and other equipment. The 
Gilchrist brothers agreed to provide the 
cattle for the experimental work, to 
undertake the work on cattle management, 
and to winter the cattle. The agreement, 
signed early in 1927, marked the birth of 
the Dominion Range Experiment Station, 
Manyberries, the first of its kind in Canada. 

A small laboratory for range forage 
supplies and equipment, and a cookhouse, 
were built. An old house from the Blacktail 
Ranch was moved in and became the 
combined office and staff living-quarters. 
Two old homesteader shacks were moved 
in for use as bunkhouses. 

Mr. Thomson started investigations into 
continuous, rotational, and deferred grazing 
systems; the behavior of cattle, as an aid to 
encouraging uniform grazing; the 
development of stock watering facilities, 
notably the building of earthen dams to 
store spring runoff; the measurement of 
gains of different classes of livestock; the 
preservation of fence posts; the initial cost 
and upkeep of fences; and the reseeding of 
abandoned cultivated lands. Meanwhile, Dr. 
Clarke began studies on native vegetation; 
the effects of various grazing practices 
upon the vegetation; improvement of range 
pastures through reseeding, surface 
cultivation, and the application of fertilizers; 
and the growing of cultivated forage crops. 

A dryland plant nursery was established 
in 1929. A dam was constructed just north 
of the building site for irrigating trees, 
gardens, and forage crops. Over 4,000 
trees supplied by the Forestry Station at 
Indian Head and a number of fruit bushes 

and perennial flowers and shrubs from the 
Morden Experimental Station were set out 
in the spring of 1 929. Sixteen hectares (40 
acres) of land were broken, prepared for 
irrigation, and seeded for hay crops and 
forage plots. An artesian well was dug and 
provided water and natural gas for the 

The project to study the behavior of 
grazing cattle was started in spring 1 929 
by Mr. Thomson. Thus, Morgan Brock 
spent the first months of his employment 
observing the feeding, sleeping, idling, and 
other activities of cattle from dawn, when 
cows first began to move, until they were 
bedded down for the night on two 
consecutive days twice each month. For 
equipment, he had a notebook and field 

Ed Tisdale was appointed as a graduate 
assistant in 1 930 and served in that 
capacity until his transfer to Kamloops, 
B.C., in 1935. 

N. A. (Andy) Skoglund began his duties 
as graduate assistant in May 1931 and 
worked on range vegetation and forage 
crops until September 1944. 

A study of carrying capacity involving 
three intensities of grazing with cattle 
began in April 1931 and was the first of its 
kind in Canada. A study of rotational- 
deferred grazing at various stocking rates 
was also undertaken. 

After 5 years of studies, Mr. Thomson 
and Dr. Clarke concluded that, no matter 
which system of grazing was used, from 20 
to 25 ha (50 to 60 acres) of range were 
required to maintain an animal throughout 
the year. In the reseeding of abandoned 
lands, they found that crested wheatgrass 
was the most suitable of all the crops and 
varieties tested. 

The policy on the Range Station was to 
conduct most of the investigations in 
cooperation with stockmen. Thus, a great 
deal of work was carried out with little 
expenditure. As well as the work at the 
Range Station, there were cooperative 
studies on corn growing, at Maple Creek 
and Vauxhall; reseeding and fertilizing 
pastures and hay meadows, in the Cypress 
Hills; reseeding, on forest reserves in 
western Alberta; fertilizing alfalfa at 
Medicine Hat; and feeding cattle on pasture 
with supplemental grain, at Medicine Hat. 

New additions to the staff in 1 934 
included Harry J. Hargrave and J. A. 
(Scotty) Campbell. 

In 1935, the Animal Husbandry Division 
undertook an important project to develop 
a more suitable breed of sheep for the 


range areas in Western Canada. A 
secondary aim was to develop a white- 
faced breed with good mutton and wool 
qualities, which could also be crossed with 
mutton breeds under farm conditions and 
used for fat lamb production. Foundation 
stock consisted of 1 5 purebred Romney- 
Marsh rams imported from William Riddell, 
Monmouth, Oregon, and 520 Rambouillet 
ewes from the range flocks of the Gilchrist 
Brothers and Green and Company ranches 
in the district. The project resulted in the 
registration of the Romnelet breed of sheep 
in 1961. 

Mr. Thomson left for Swift Current in 
May 1 935 to become Superintendent of the 
Experimental Station there. Harry Hargrave 
became acting superintendent of the 
Range Station, and assistant 
superintendent in 1 936; in 1 939, he was 
promoted to the positions of 
Superintendent of the Manyberries Range 
Experiment Station and of the grazing 
substation at Kamloops, B.C. J. Baden 
Campbell and George D. Chattaway began 
work in May 1 936 as summer-student 

One of the most disastrous droughts on 
record occurred during the summer of 
1936. The drought was a severe test of the 
Range Station's water development, which 
consisted of 1 7 earthen dams and dugouts 
built of many soil types in various pastures. 
At no time in the summer or fall was there 

Mr. H. J. Hargrave, Superintendent of the 
Manyberries Range Experiment Station, 
1935-1947, and Superintendent of the Range 
Substation at Kamloops, B.C., 1939-1941. 

a shortage of water for livestock; the 
reservoirs continued to provide a 
satisfactory supply of water even after 
many springs and natural water holes had 
dried up. This work was invaluable to 
PFRA in planning a water-conservation 
program for Western Canada. 

During the summer of 1 937, extensive 
studies began on contour furrowing, dyking, 
and terracing, and other types of structures 
for conserving and spreading runoff water 
to increase and improve growth of native 

The studies of carrying capacity were 
expanded to include grazing with sheep. 
The first cycle of grazing by cattle was 
completed and another cycle started. The 
results emphasized again that the carrying 
capacity of the rangeland at the Range 
Station was about 25 ha (60 acres) a head 
for cattle on a year-round basis. A carry- 
over (the ungrazed grass at the end of the 
grazing season) of about 50% was 
required to keep the vegetation healthy and 
productive. The results of the studies on 
carrying capacity were fundamental in 
planning larger grazing surveys under 
PFRA. The pasture survey was one of the 
activities provided for under the cultural 
section of PFRA and was conducted on 
privately owned ranches, community 
pastures, and special areas throughout the 
three Prairie Provinces. The surveys 
included information on the vegetational 
cover; its botanical composition, density, 
and nutritive value; the carrying capacity of 
the areas studied; and the management of 
the pastures. 

In cooperation with the Economics 
Division of the Dominion Department of 
Agriculture, the Range Station began a 
detailed economic survey of the range 
cattle industry in the fall of 1938. Drought 
and farm abandonment showed that an 
economic picture of the cattle industry was 
necessary before land-use policies could 
be established for range areas. 

The survey covered range areas in 
Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British 

A combined office, utility, and bunkhouse 
building was completed in the fall of 1939. 
This building provided permanent quarters 
for employees and accommodation for 
overnight visitors. It was also useful for 
Field Day gatherings, meetings, and other 
community functions. 

In 1 940, the forage crops report stated: 
'Under dryland conditions, crested 
wheatgrass, Russian wildrye, and a few 
species of Agropyron are the only 

Dr. Hobart F. Peters, Superintendent of the 
Manyberries Range Experiment Station, 

outstanding species. Several species 
appear to be drought tolerant, but none 
equal crested wheatgrass. Astragalus cicer 
and Medicago falcata seem to be the 
leading drought resistant legumes . . . 
Russian wildrye produced an abundance of 
leafage but failed to head out ... It may be 
possible to stimulate seed production by 
mowing this grass in the leaf stage.' 

During the next 5 or 6 years, research 
was reduced because of the war. The 
collection of data on carrying capacity for 
cattle was curtailed, but the Romnelet 
sheep breeding project and the study for 
wintering calves were continued. The study 
of carrying capacity for sheep was stopped 
because of predations by coyotes and lack 
of help. However, the range survey and the 
regrassing programs, as well as some 
forage and range studies, went on. 

Fundamental information obtained at the 
Range Station was used in 1941 to 
develop an improved rangeland policy for 
Alberta. The policy, developed by the Short 
Grass Stock Growers' Association and 
provincial land administrators, based the 
rental value of rangeland on its productive 
capacity. The Range Station carried on 
range surveys to obtain information on the 
proper use of ranges administered under 
the new agreement. 

When the war was over, more funds 
became available to operate the Range 
Station and more help was acquired. 
Hobart F. Peters arrived in April 1947 to 
become Officer-in-Charge upon Harry 
Hargrave's transfer to Swift Current as 
head of the Animal Science Section there. 


Manyberries Range Experiment Station over 

the years: 


July 1927. Dr. S. E. Clarke and his tent at 

Federal Ranch southeast of Manyberries- 

original site of MRES. 


7 928. Old shacks used as temporary 



1 930. Left to right: office, Forage 

Laboratory, bunkhouse, cookhouse. 

Opposite page ■ Above 

7 935. Office left, residence right. 

Opposite page • Center 

7 939. Office and utility building completed. 

Opposite page ■ Below 

7 964. Office and laboratory building. 





Plans were made to reestablish some of 
the experiments and start new ones. R. T. 
(Bob) Coupland and W. A. (Bill) Hubbard, 
from the Swift Current Experimental 
Station, spent the summer of 1 947 
gathering vegetation data by point sampling 
in the carrying-capacity fields, the 
enclosures, and other fields, and also by 
charting the permanent quadrats in the 
carrying-capacity fields. 

Experiments begun in 1 948 included a 
study of carrying capacity with cattle, a 
breed comparison of the Corriedale and 
Romnelet sheep, a cobalt status survey, 
determination of seasonal yield and 
nutritive value of crested wheatgrass, and 
major ecological studies. Introduction 
nurseries were established on dry land, 
spring-flooded land, and irrigated land. 

An important shift in the research 
program at the Range Station began in 

1 949. Because of the scientific interest in 
crossbreeding, part-Brahman calves 
obtained from Streeter Brothers of Stavely 
were placed in a feeding test and carcass 
study, and compared with Hereford calves. 
Also included in the study were calves of 
cattalo, an experimental cross between 
cattle and the native bison or buffalo. The 
calves were brought in from Wainwright in 
November. An expanded program in forage 
crops and range management was started 
by Bill Hubbard, assisted by Sylver Smoliak 
who was appointed as assistant in 
agronomy in June and agrostologist in 

Plans were made to acquire more 
grazing land for the cattalo herd and, in 

1 950, 1 555 ha (6 sections) of land were 
acquired from Bert Foster to increase the 
holdings to 8815 ha (21,760 acres). 

The cattalo herd was transferred from 
Wainwright to the Range Station, where 
better facilities and a trained technical staff 
were available. (The Wainwright Buffalo 
Park was established in 1 908 to 
accommodate buffalo purchased by the 
Canadian government in Montana. Most of 
the buffalo were shipped to Wood Buffalo 
National Park in the twenties and the 
remaining animals were destroyed when 
Wainwright Buffalo Park became a military 
reserve in 1941. The cattalo experiment, 
begun many years previously, was 
accommodated in a corner of the military 
reserve until 1950.) 

The cattalo bulls were moved in June 
1 950, then sperm counts were made by 
Hobart Peters and Fred Kristjansson of the 
Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa. Of 16 
bulls tested, 4 showed signs of fertility, 2 




»fcSSB^" r 


Various animals from the cattalo project at 
the Manyberries Range Experiment Station, 

1 . Fertile 1 /8-bison bull, 5 years old 

2. Fertile 3/16-bison bull, 2 years old 

3. Fertile 3/16-bison bull, 3 years old 

4. Angus x bison hybrid cow, 21 years old 

5. Fertile 1 /8-bison bull, 6 years old 

6. Hereford x bison hybrid cow, 21 years 

7. One-quarter-bison cow, 6 years old 

8. One-eighth-bison heifer, 18 months old 

9. One-seventh-bison cow, 3 years old 


would not breed, and the remaining 1 
showed no sign of fertility and were 
shipped for slaughter. In September, two 
truckloads of hybrids (one-half bison) and 
five railway stock cars of cattalo cows 
(one-quarter bison or less) completed the 
transfer. The 39 hybrids consisting of 1 
Hereford x bison, 25 Angus x bison, and 
4 Shorthorn x bison ranged in age from 
11 to 1 7 years. The female cattalo 
comprised 65 cows and 1 9 heifers. The 
cattalo were tested to determine whether 
they could combine the winterhardiness of 
the bison and the beef-producing ability of 
domestic cattle. The main problem was 
male sterility. No fertile first-cross or first- 
backcross bulls were ever found, but bulls 
ranging from 75% to 96% domestic were 
found to have normal fertility. The cattalo 
did not paw to uncover the grass on snow- 
covered ranges; however, the hybrids 
burrowed with their muzzles through deep 
snow. The cattalo experiment was 
discontinued in 1 964 after it had been 
shown that progress could be made 
through selection for fertility and growth 
rate. Much useful information on crosses 
between different species came from the 
project, but the breed did not seem to have 
characteristics important enough to justify 
carrying it further. 

A crossbreeding experiment with 
Brahman cattle began in July 1950 in 
cooperation with Henry and James H. 
Mitchell of Battle Creek, Sask. They 
provided a Brahman bull, 13 Shorthorn 
cows, and 1 Aberdeen Angus cows for the 
project. The Range Station agreed to 
provide 1 2 or more Hereford cows and to 
keep, feed, and care for all animals involved 
in the experiment until November 1955. 
The first Brahman bull, Madera Tippu 2nd, 
supplied by George G. Ross, Sr. and used 
in the breeding program during the 
summer, died on November 1 9 when the 
temperature dropped to -24 C (-12 F). His 
replacement was housed in a closed shed 
throughout the following winters. Some of 
the heifer calves from these crosses were 
retained for a lifetime-productivity study in 
comparison with the Hereford breed. The 
crossbreds wintered with the other range 
cattle and made equal body weight gains. 
They were active and foraged willingly 
away from the feed-grounds whenever the 
Herefords were able to graze. The 
performance of the Brahman crossbreds 
exceeded expectations. 

An additional 3100 ha (12 sections) of 
lease-land were acquired in 1951 from Mrs. 
Mabel Wetherelt of the Onefour district. 

The land contained some excellent winter 
range along the Lost River coulee. 

The landholdings were increased again 
in 1 952 to accommodate the sheep flock. 
Another 4400 ha (17 sections) of land were 
purchased from R. A. Fries and J. H. 
Stutsman to bring the total area to 1 6 850 
ha (41,600 acres). 

Studies on grazing Russian wild 
ryegrass, crested wheatgrass, and native 
range were begun in 1 954 when 60 ha 
(150 acres) of prairie were broken. Part of 
the land was seeded with Russian wild 
ryegrass and part with crested wheatgrass 
in the spring of 1955. The areas were 
cross-fenced and yearling ewes were 
grazed on the various pastures in April 
1 957. The study established that Russian 
wild ryegrass was as productive as crested 
wheatgrass, but it excelled as fall pasture. 
The seeded grasses produced about twice 
as much forage as native range and 
animals gained about three times as much 
weight on an equivalent area of land. The 
seeded pastures were stocked three times 
as heavily as native range. 

A recommendation from Ottawa that 
animal breeding should have priority over 
range management research at 
Manyberries resulted in an active 
construction program at the Range Station. 
A Quonset shed for cattle feeding was built 
in 1 957; a garage and shop, duplex 
residence, and an office-and-laboratory 
building in 1958; and an assembly hall and 
another duplex in 1 960. Cattle and sheep 
corrals, cross-fences in breeding pastures, 
and a number of water developments were 
also constructed. 

The cattle breeding project with purebred 
Hereford and Angus cows was revised to 
include two lines of 30 animals of each 
breed. By 1 958, 46 Hereford and 52 Angus 
cows were acquired for the project. The 
male calves were fed a performance- 
testing pelleted ration, but they frequently 
became bloated because of the high 
proportion of finely ground alfalfa hay in the 
pellets. Use of coarser-ground alfalfa and 
larger pellets almost eliminated the bloat 

A range regrassing program, based on 
the results of the grazing study of 
cultivated grasses, was set up in 1 959. 
Although it was designed to provide 
pasture for cattle during the breeding 
season, the main objective of the 
regrassing program was to increase 
productivity of rangeland and to show 
ranchers and farmers that such a program 
was feasible. In separate studies, the 


grazing capacity of the seeded pastures, 
the production life of the stand, and 
methods of management were determined. 
These results were disseminated to 
farmers and ranchers through Field Days, 
field demonstrations and tours, short 
courses and meetings, and the press. Many 
of them proceeded to regrass parts of their 
holdings. Other organizations such as 
PFRA, Agricultural and Rural Development 
Administration, provincial departments, 
grazing reserves, and community pastures 
began regrassing programs to increase 
rangeland productivity. 

A breed development program in 
cooperation with Ross Ranches began in 
1963. Holstein and Brown Swiss bulls (the 
same bulls that were used in the breeding 
of the Hays Converters) were crossed with 
Hereford range cows in 1 963 and 1 964. 
Some Red Angus and Shorthorn cows 
were introduced into the program. 
Selection of bulls and heifers for 
replacement was based on yearling weight. 
A group of Hereford cows was maintained 
as a control so that the rates of 

improvement in the two herds could be 

An important change in the role of the 
Manyberries Experimental Farm occurred 
in 1964. The professional and technical 
staff were transferred to the Lethbridge 
Research Station, although the support 
staff remained at Manyberries. The 
livestock phase of the program came under 
the supervision of S. B. Slen, Animal 
Science Section, and the forage crops 
phase under R. W. Peake, Plant Science 
Section. The Director of the Research 
Station, Dr. T. H. Anstey, assumed 
responsibility for administration and 
direction of the operation. Because of this 
amalgamation, funds could be used more 
efficiently and the program of research was 
diversified. The Manyberries Experimental 
Farm thus became a Research Substation. 

Even the name was changed. The post 
office address since 1 927 had been 
Manyberries but, in 1 965, it was discovered 
that about $1,200 a year could be saved in 
postal charges simply by changing the 
postal address to Onefour. This was 

possible because, years before, there had 
been a designated post office at a farm 
home in Township 1 , Range 4. The old 
post office was moved a few miles north to 
the Range Station headquarters and the 
Onefour Range and Livestock Research 
Substation came into being. 

The integration of research and 
administration with the Lethbridge 
Research Station on July 13, 1964, marked 
the end of the Manyberries Range 
Experiment Station. After 36 years, it left its 
mark in the range areas of southern 
Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan 
and in the Northern Great Plains of the 
United States. 

Aerial view of the Manyberries Substation in 


Chapter 11. Amalgamation 

A general meeting of staffs of the 
Experimental Farm and Science Service 
Laboratory, March 13, 1959, at which Dr. T. 
H. Anstey explained amalgamation of the 
two institutions. 

With the expansion of the Experimental 
Station in the postwar period and the 
creation of the Science Service and 
Livestock Insect laboratories, a major 
agricultural research establishment came 
into being at Lethbridge. Although there 
was complete cooperation among 
scientists and technicians, each 
organization was separately administered 
and there was considerable duplication of 

In 1951, administration of the Livestock 
Insect Laboratory was placed under Dr. W. 
C. Broadfoot, Director of the Science 
Service Laboratory. This was bitterly 
resented by R. H. Painter, as the Livestock 
Insect Laboratory was essentially his 
creation and he had administered it from 
the beginning. But the name of the 
Livestock Insect Laboratory was changed 
to the Veterinary-Medical Entomology 
Section of the Science Service Laboratory 
and Mr. Painter became a liaison officer 
(livestock insects) for the four western 

The Science Service Laboratory and the 
Experimental Farm (in 1954, all 
Experimental Stations were renamed 
Experimental Farms) continued to be 
separately administered for several more 
years. Their research programs went on, 
however, that of the Experimental Farm at 
a much faster pace than during the prewar 
period. The activity reflected a larger staff, 
more facilities, and greater availability of 

A factor that was to have a great 
influence on research attitudes and 
accomplishments was postgraduate study 
during the decade of the fifties. After the 
war, veterans were able to take university 

training under the federal Department of 
Veterans Affairs (DVA) Re-establishment 
Credits Program. A few scientists took 
postgraduate study under the DVA 
program, and many others took their first 
degree under it. Shortly after the war, the 
federal Department of Agriculture instituted 
a policy whereby professional employees 
could take postgraduate work and receive 
half-pay while doing so. The policy was an 
immediate success, and many men and 
women took advantage of it to get M.Sc. 
and Ph.D. degrees. In the immediate 
postwar period, employees with bachelor 
degrees outnumbered employees with 
doctorate degrees, whereas by 1 960 the 
latter far outnumbered the former. The 
contacts made with other workers, 
professors, and students, and the informal 
discussions on methods, techniques, and 
equipment were as valuable to the 
research program as were the advanced 
courses taken for degrees. The intellectual 
stimulus of people going to and coming 
from many universities made the decade 
an exciting one for all employees. All these 
things had a profound effect on the 
research by personnel of the Science 
Service Laboratory and Experimental Farm. 
The intellectual stimulus of the fifties was 
illustrated by the number of publications 
emanating from the Experimental Farm and 
Science Service Laboratory. In 1 950, about 
10 papers were published, whereas in 

1 960, nearly 70 appeared in print. 

Early in the decade, an important 
research contribution was made by Dr. 
John T. Slykhuis, a plant pathologist, who 
discovered the vector (carrier) of the wheat 
streak mosaic disease. Dr. Slykhuis 
showed that the virus causing wheat streak 
mosaic was transmitted by a mite. At the 
time of writing, it remained the only 
Canadian discovery of an arthropod vector 
of a plant virus. 

Much research time was devoted to the 
study of the wheat stem sawfly during the 
fifties. Dr. C. W. Farstad's enthusiasm had 
much to do with this as he stimulated other 
scientists to study the problems. Drs. Ruby 
I. Larson and M. D. MacDonald studied 
inheritance of the solid stem character, 
which made wheat plants resistant to 
sawfly attack. 

Dr. Hugh McKenzie crossed Rescue and 
Chinook hard red spring wheats and, in 
1 962, released the variety Cypress. 
Chinook, released in 1952, was largely the 
work of Arnold W. Piatt and replaced 
Rescue, the first of the solid-stemmed 
bread wheats. Drs. A. J. McGinnis and R. 
Kasting and Mr. L. E. Lopatecki studied 
nutrition of wheat stem sawfly larvae. Drs. 
R. W. Salt and N. S. Church assessed cold 
hardiness and hormone activity in the 
wheat stem sawfly. Alice M. Wall 
determined the sex ratio in populations of 
the sawfly while Margaret R. Mackay 



The 50th anniversary celebration, July 25, 
7 956, which featured the unveiling of a large 
prairie boulder and attached plaque. 
Opposite page 

Destruction of the dairy barn by fire, August 
10, 1959. 

studied the cytology of the insect. Dr. D. 
W. A. Roberts investigated the physiology 
of resistance of wheats to the sawfly. And, 
finally, Drs. Farstad and N. D. Holmes and 
Mr. L. K. Peterson conducted field studies 
on the insect, looking particularly at the 
effects of tillage on populations, the effects 
of shading on the solidness of wheat 
stems, the effects of wheat variety on sex 
ratio in sawflies, parasitism, weather 
relationships, and the nature of resistance 
of wheat to the sawfly. At one time, 21 
people from Lethbridge and throughout 
Saskatchewan were working on the wheat 
stem sawfly. 

The Experimental Farm celebrated its 
Golden Anniversary in 1956. Mr. H. 
Chester was Superintendent, after a career 
at Lethbridge as illustration stations 
supervisor from 1 934 to 1 945 and head of 
field husbandry from 1945 to 1953. Special 
features were run in The Lethbridge Herald, 
and television station CJLH-TV (later 
CJOC-TV) paid tribute in a special 
program. Guests on the program were Dr. 
W. H. Fairfield, Mr. A. E. Palmer, and Mr. H. 
Chester, the Station's three 
superintendents. A 5.5-tonne (6-ton) prairie 
boulder, symbolic of the parent soils of the 
region, and attached plaque were unveiled 
in commemoration of the 50th anniversary 
and in honor of Dr. Fairfield, first 
Superintendent of the Farm. 

An important project of the Forage Crops 
Section of the Experimental Farm during 
the period was the development of a 
bacterial-wilt-resistant alfalfa. The wilt 

project began with the creation of the 
Forage Crops Section in 1 944 and received 
further impetus about 1 946 when Dr. M. W. 
Cormack, pathologist at the Plant 
Pathology Laboratory, Edmonton, and Dr. J. 
L. Bolton, plant breeder at the Dominion 
Forage Crops Laboratory, Saskatoon, were 
named cooperators with R. W. Peake, 
Lethbridge. The project was later 
successfully concluded with the release of 
the bacterial-wilt-resistant variety Beaver in 

Irrigated pasture studies, started on the 
Experimental Station as early as 1912, also 
received new impetus during the fifties. Mr. 
Peake, head of the Forage Crops Section, 
laid out the original plots that resulted in a 
recommended pasture mixture containing 
orchardgrass, creeping red fescue, 
bromegrass, and white clover. In 1 953, 
scientists D. B. Wilson of the Forage Crops 
Section and R. D. Clark of the Animal 
Husbandry Section began replicated 
experiments on irrigated pastures with 
sheep as the grazing animal. Later studies 
were conducted with cattle. The 
investigators found that irrigated pastures 
of the region had a high carrying capacity. 
One hectare could support 4.9 animal units 
(2.0 animal units per acre) for a 120-day 
grazing period. 

The Cereal Breeding Section was 
interested in sawfly resistance in the spring 
wheat breeding program, winterhardiness 
in the winter wheat breeding program, and 
high yield in the feed and malting barley 
breeding programs. The work of W. D. Hay 
came into its own during the fifties when a 
troublesome wheat surplus developed from 
about 1 954 to 1 960. He had experimented 
with a variety of crops and was in a 
position to advise farmers when they tried 
desperately to find a crop that could be 
grown and would return immediate 

The horticulture research program during 
the fifties was divided into four phases. 
Trials were conducted by Dr. I. L. 
Nonnecke and W. E. Torfason to find out 
which varieties were best adapted to the 
irrigated and dryland areas of the region. 
Breeding and selection programs were 
undertaken by Dr. G. A. Kemp to develop 
varieties that would be suitable for the 
vegetable-processing industry, with 
particular emphasis on the tomato. Other 
experiments were conducted to determine 
the best cultural practices for growing 
small fruits and canning crops. And, lastly, 
research was conducted by G. C. Strachan 
on the processing and nutritive merits of 


varieties found suitable for the region; a 
Food Processing Laboratory was operated 
for this purpose. 

Much of the research in field husbandry 
was the same as it had been for many 
years: rotations, tillage experiments, soil 
fertility studies on irrigated and dry land, 
and investigation of plowless tillage and 
trash cover. Weed research, under J. J. P. 
Sexsmith, involved studying the effect of 
herbicides on wild oats growing in canning 
peas or sugar beets, on mixed annual 
weeds in canning peas, and on Russian 
thistle in flax, as well as studies on hoary 

There was some building activity during 
the period. In 1 954, the Science Service 
Laboratory erected a metal barn designed 
to house 1 00 cattle and 1 20 sheep for 
experimental studies on livestock insects. 
The north wing of the new barn was built 
to house environmental control studies, but 
it was never completed. 

In 1 955 on the Experimental Farm, a 
building for cereal breeding work was 
constructed, something that A. W. Piatt had 

fought for before his resignation in 1 951 . 
The old sheep shed, built in 1919-20, had 
become an eyesore and was demolished in 
1 957. The Experimental Farm drew up 
plans for several buildings in 1958 
including a new administration building, a 
field husbandry work building, a calf barn 
and dairy barn extension, an open-front 
sheep shed, a tractor storage building, and 
a climatic laboratory for farm livestock 
research. Mr. Chester, the Superintendent 
had heard rumors of a possible 
reorganization of the Experimental Farms 
Service and Science Service and 
recognized that the building program might 
be curtailed. And, in fact, none of the 
buildings were constructed before 1 962. 
The problem of the calf barn and dairy barn 
extension solved itself in October 1 959 
when the existing dairy barn caught fire 
from a malfunctioning bale loader and 
burned to the ground. The requested 
building became part of the dairy barn 
complex when it was rebuilt. 

The year 1 959 was of great significance 
in the history of the Experimental Farms 

Service and Science Service. Dr. C. H. 
Goulden, Director of Experimental Farms, 
and Dr. K. W. Neatby, Director of Science 
Service, undertook to amalgamate the two 
organizations into one Research Branch. 

Rumors of the impending amalgamation 
were heard as early as May 1 958 and were 
mentioned in a letter that H. Chester, 
Superintendent of the Lethbridge 
Experimental Farm, wrote to Ottawa at that 
time. The rumors became official when a 
memorandum was sent to directors and 
superintendents of the two services on 
September 12, 1958. 

Lethbridge was one of six regional 
centers where an Experimental Farm and a 
Science Service Laboratory had to be 
brought under one Director. The plan 
became effective on April 1 , 1 959, and Dr. 
T. H. Anstey was appointed the first 
Director of the newly created Research 
Station. Dr. W. C. Broadfoot, Officer-in- 
Charge of the Science Service Laboratory, 
and Mr. H. Chester, Superintendent of the 
Experimental Farm, became associate 


Mr. E. A. Olafson, Chief, PFRA Drainage 
Division, Vauxhall, 1949-1952, 1956-1961. 

Dr. Anstey was a native of Victoria, B.C. 
He joined the army in 1942 and was one of 
a number of young Canadian lieutenants 
who volunteered for active duty with the 
British Army under the Canloan project, a 
group that suffered very heavy casualties. 
He joined the Agassiz Experimental Farm 
in 1 945 as a horticulturist and, later, took a 
Ph.D. in plant genetics. In 1952, he 
became Superintendent of the Summerland 
Experimental Station and, at 35, was the 
second youngest man to hold such a 
position. Only W. H. Fairfield, who became 
Superintendent at Lethbridge at age 32, 
was younger. In 1958, Dr. Anstey was 
appointed Superintendent of the Kentville 
Experimental Farm and he moved from 
there to Lethbridge in 1 959. 

The Lethbridge Research Station, one 
gathers, was the cause of some unease in 
official circles. It was by far the largest of 
the regional research stations and was 
made up of two rather diverse groups of 
scientists. Science Service personnel had 
embarked on a course of research in 
depth; Experimental Farm personnel, with 
some exceptions, conducted research to 
provide direct answers to practical 
questions. Science Service personnel, with 
the exception of crop entomologists, had 
little to do with the farming public; 

Experimental Farm personnel had a long 
tradition of working directly with farmers. 
And, rumor had it Science Service 
personnel were better paid on the average 
than Experimental Farm personnel. Thus, 
the new Director had to gain the respect 
and confidence of a large staff of 
professional men and women working in 
many different fields of research. Also, he 
was judged critically by the region's 
agricultural producers with their varied 

In practice, the process of amalgamation 
at Lethbridge was accomplished with 
surprisingly few problems. Dr. Anstey made 
every effort to keep the staff fully informed 
and called general meetings to explain 
decisions and to provide a forum for 
discussion of difficulties. He was aided 
greatly by the presence on the Station of C. 
P. (Cleo) Gubbels, a particularly able 
administrative officer. Mr. Gubbels 
restructured the administrative units of the 
former Experimental Farm and Science 
Service Laboratory and made them 
function smoothly as one. 

With the reorganization that became 
effective on April 1, 1959, the Division of 
Illustration Stations ceased to exist. At 
Lethbridge, A. Douglas Smith supervised 
1 district experiment substations located 
at Acadia Valley, Bindloss, Claresholm, 
Craigmyle, Drumheller, Foremost, Lomond, 
Nobleford, Pincher Creek, and Whitla. The 
farm of R. H. Babe at Whitla had the 
distinction of being the oldest Illustration 
Station in Canada at dissolution. It had 
been one of the first selected by Dr. J. H. 
Grisdale and W. H. Fairfield in April 1915 
and, when the program was discontinued in 
1959, it was still being operated by the son 
of the original owner. 

Part of the process of amalgamation 
involved moving technical personnel from 
the Vauxhall Irrigation Research Substation 
into Lethbridge. The Substation had started 
in 1953 when the Taber Irrigation 
Substation closed. W. L. Jacobson was 
Officer-in-Charge until his retirement on 
June 20, 1958; Dr. L. E. Lutwick took over 
as Acting Officer-in-Charge on July 1, 
1958. Other scientists were K. K. Krogman, 
responsible for soil fertility investigations, 
who had conducted studies at 
Youngstown, Alta., and Skookumchuck, 
B.C.; L. G. Sonmore, for soil moisture 
investigations; and E. H. Hobbs, for 
irrigation engineering and meteorology. Mr. 
Krogman was living in Lethbridge and 
commuting to Vauxhall at the time of 
amalgamation; the others moved to 

Lethbridge during the summer and fall of 

After amalgamation, staff of the PFRA 
Drainage Division, who had shared 
laboratory facilities at Vauxhall with staff of 
the Irrigation Substation, became part of 
the Research Station. The group continued 
to work at Vauxhall until 1961 because 
accommodations at Lethbridge were limited. 

To sum up, amalgamation in 1 959 joined 
together the Science Service Laboratory, 
with its sections of Crop Entomology, 
Chemistry, Veterinary-Medical Entomology, 
and Plant Pathology; and the Experimental 
Farm, with its sections of Animal 
Husbandry, Cereals, Field Husbandry, 
Forage Crops, and Horticulture, the 
Grassland Research Substation at Stavely, 
and the Irrigation Research Substation at 
Vauxhall. The PFRA Drainage Division, 
Vauxhall, joined the Research Station in 
1961. The Manyberries Experimental Farm 
did not become part of the Research 
Station until 1964. 

Amalgamation of the Experimental Farm 
and the Science Service Laboratory was 
the most significant restructuring of 
Lethbridge research establishments ever to 
occur. It set the stage for the mission- 
oriented, multidisciplinary research 
programs that followed. 

Dr. C. D. Stewart, Chief. PFRA Drainage 
Division. Vauxhall. 1952-1956. 


Chapter 12. The Sixties 

The decade of the sixties at the 
Research Station was a time of 
consolidation with little expansion. The 
scientific climate changed. Until the mid- 
fifties, most people regarded science as an 
interesting and important phase of human 
activity but one that did not touch their 
lives closely. By the sixties, almost 
everyone recognized that many of the 
changes, for better or for worse, that had 
come about in their lives had been initiated 
by science. People everywhere came to 
fear the growth of science as the source of 
new weapons to destroy them, of 
automation that would leave them 
unemployed and in poverty, and of a 
technologically dominated social structure 
that would leave little room for man's 
nobler aspirations. At the same time, 
people hailed science as a benefactor 
contributing in an important way to better 
health, to the removal of drudgery, and to 
many improvements in the quality of life. 

At Lethbridge, the changed attitude 
toward science manifested itself in a 
freezing of positions, both of scientists and 
of supporting staff, and a cutback of 
appropriations. As a result, the Research 
Station underwent a period of austerity, which 
was in marked contrast to the optimism 
and buoyancy of the postwar period. 

Dr. H. J. Perkins, biochemist, discussed 
some of the effects of austerity at the time 
of his resignation. As was customary, he 
resigned by means of a letter to the 
Director. But he sent copies to Macleans 
Magazine, The Lethbridge Herald, the 
Minister of Agriculture, and the local 
Member of Parliament, Deane R. Gundlock. 
Officials of the Research Branch took a 
jaundiced view of Dr. Perkins' action in 
releasing the letter to the press, but they 
were mostly sympathetic to his contentions 
regarding the state of Canadian agricultural 

Dr. Perkins made several points in his 
letter. First, he indicated that an alarming 
and increasing number of Canadian 
scientists were moving to the United 
States. Second, the government refused to 
support its scientists adequately. Third, 
austerity resulted in the curtailment of 
travel to scientific meetings and seriously 
hindered the government scientist in the 
personal exchange of research ideas with 
his colleagues. Fourth, petty annoyances 
existed such as a ruling whereby scientists 
at Lethbridge had to sign in once a day to 
prove they were actually at work. 

Perkins' letter provoked a reaction from 
many quarters. Dr. Robert Glen, Assistant 

Deputy Minister of Agriculture (Research) 
commented to Dr. S. C. Barry, Deputy 
Minister of Agriculture, that '. . . [the] letter 
reveals a state of feeling that is more 
widespread than we would like to believe. 
We need to announce an end to further 
staff deterioration and a progressive policy 
to match the competition we face.' Dr. J. A. 
Anderson, Director-General of the 
Research Branch, sympathized with Dr. 
Perkins and felt that he should have 
discussed housing of government scientists 
who '. . .must be classed as the worst 
housed scientific staff in Canada.' And Dr. 
T. H. Anstey was generally in agreement 
with Perkins' statements. 

One of Dr. Anstey's most important 
contributions came soon after 
amalgamation. He took the Lethbridge 
Research Station from dependence on 
mechanical calculators into the computer 

In 1 960, before he resigned, Dr. Perkins 
played a part in this advance. He was in 
touch with a chemist at the Department of 
National Defence's Suffield Experimental 
Station at Ralston, Alta., and on one of his 
visits there he was shown the Stantec 
Zebra digital computer, then in use at that 
Station. He conceived the idea that it might 
be possible for the Research Station to use 
the Suffield computer for analysis of 
experimental data. Dr. Perkins returned to 
Lethbridge and discussed these findings 
and ideas with Dr. Anstey. 

Dr. Anstey visited Suffield and met the 
Chief Superintendent, A. M. Pennie. Dr. 
Anstey found that there was considerable 
free time available on the computer, and 
Mr. Pennie asked for an example of the 
type of work that would be required. At the 
time, Dr. I. L. Nonnecke, head of the 
Horticulture Section, had data from a series 
of vegetable uniformity trials that he 
wanted to have analyzed. Programmers at 
Suffield spent nearly 2 weeks in 
transferring the data onto tapes. Then the 
tapes were run through the computer and, 
in a few minutes, Dr. Nonnecke had the 
results. After this demonstration, Dr. 
Anstey, Dr. S. A. Wells, and Mr. A. L. Lagler 
went to Suffield and took a course in the 
use of the Zebra computer. In turn, they 
taught others how to use the machine. 

At Lethbridge, a teletype-keypunch 
machine was installed in an office in the 
Biology Building. Mr. Lagler acted as 
keypunch operator and did whatever typing 
and editing were necessary in connection 
with submitted data. He took the completed 
material to Suffield and ran it on the 

computer, always after 5:00 p.m. Data were 
returned to Lethbridge in tape form and 
were put through the teletype machine so 
that printouts could be obtained. 

The Suffield Experimental Station 
changed from the Stantec Zebra to an IBM 
1 1 30 computer in 1 966. The latter used 
punched cards instead of tape, but a tape- 
reading facility was available to help in the 
transition from one computer to the other. 

The services of a Univac 1 108 computer 
were rented from a Calgary firm by the 
Station in 1971. A computer terminal and 
keypunch machine were set up at 
Lethbridge on the second floor of the old 
horse barn, built in 1931 but more recently 
used as the Forage Crops Laboratory. 

In 1 960, also, the highway from 
Lethbridge to Coaldale was widened to four 
lanes. Station officials discovered that the 
land required to widen it included plot No. 
1 of rotation U, which would be destroyed. 
This irrigated crop rotation, started by Dr. 
W. H. Fairfield in 191 1, was the oldest such 
rotation in North America and useful 
results were still being obtained from its 
study. After discussion, it was decided to 
move the plot. 

According to Dr. G. C. Russell, head of 
the Soil Science Section, '. . . the move 
upset the physical condition of the soil of 
the plot but this was not one of the 
features of the experiment. The chemical 
aspect was not changed, and that was the 
important consideration.' 

As the Station grew during the late fifties, 
lack of adequate water pressure in the 
mains became an increasing problem. 
There were times when it would have been 
impossible to fight a fire, for example. 
Water pressure in taps on the second and 
third floors of Station buildings was so low 
that only a trickle could be obtained at 
times of peak flow. The reason was that 
the Experimental Farm, Science Service 
Laboratory, and Provincial Jail shared a 15- 
cm (6-inch) water line, and its capacity was 
inadequate. In 1962, a 20-cm (8-inch) 
water line was put in from city mains to the 
Lethbridge Research Station and pressures 
became sufficient for all needs. 


Construction during the period included 
a large addition to the machine shop; a 
complex containing a dairy barn, a calf- 
feeding barn, and a laboratory; and a field 
building for soils studies, all built in 1962. 
About the same time, the old 
boardinghouse and foreman's residence 
were converted to soil salinity and soil 
science laboratories to accommodate the 
work formerly done at the Vauxhall 
Irrigation Research Substation. A cattle- 
feeding building for use in the Three 
Walking Sticks crossbreeding project, 
described further on, was built in 1966-67. 
Also, an underground irrigation system was 
installed on plant science plot land north of 
the railway. All work was done under the 
watchful eye of E. W. Thurston, 
maintenance and construction supervisor 
of the Research Station. 

There were nine sections when the 
Research Station was organized in 1 959: 
Crop Entomology, Veterinary-Medical 
Entomology, Plant Pathology, Chemistry, 
Soil Science, Animal Science, Horticulture, 
Cereals, and Forage Crops. This made for 
a cumbersome, unresponsive executive 
committee. The opportunity to correct the 
situation came about when Dr. I. L. 
Nonnecke, head of the Horticulture Section, 
resigned in 1 964. The Horticulture, Cereals, 
and Forage Crops sections were combined 
into one Plant Science Section under R. W. 
Peake, with S. R. Pisko as plot foreman. 
About the same time, the Chemistry 
Section was abolished and Dr. R. Kasting 
and technician J. P. Quan were transferred 
to crop entomology. 

About 1 965, the Director's workload 
increased and a secretary was obtained for 
him. The first person to occupy the position 
was Jennie M. Svrsek, who was the 
Director's secretary from 1 965 to 1 968. 
She was followed by Lijutje (Leny) Beyer 
from 1968 to 1970, then by Mrs. Linda A. 
E. Knelsen. 

Other senior stenographic and clerical 
staff during the period included Yoriko 
Hiraga who was head of the steno pool 
from 1 962 to 1 963 and who was followed 
by Mrs. Mary Nowik. Betty E. Nishimura 
was head of accounting. Catherine M. 
Webster was office services supervisor, 
and Jean Ringland was in charge of the 
central registry, followed by Mrs. Heather 
A. Doddridge. Outside stenographers 
included B. Mary Murray in soil science, 
Mrs. Mary T. Lee in animal science, La 
Verne H. Hamabata in plant science, and 
Chyrel A. M. Sedrovic in veterinary-medical 

Coffee Table News, known as CTN, 
started in January 1 966; it was still being 
circulated in 1976. It was a two-page, 
mimeographed, weekly newsletter of births, 
deaths, marriages, transfers, directives of 
general interest, and jokes of dubious 
humor. About 200 copies of each issue 
were printed (in 1 976) and there was a 
mailing list of 72. Copies were left on 
tables in the various canteens and section 
coffee-break locations: hence the name. 

The Experimental Station's Semi- 
Occasional Blatter, edited by Beth Fairfield 
during World War II, and the Science 
Service Laboratory's SAC (Social and 
Athletic Club), edited by Dr. A. M. Harper in 
the early fifties, were the only comparable 
publications ever issued by the Station. 
Both the Blatter and SAC were several 
pages in length, the former appearing 
occasionally, the latter on a monthly basis. 

Administrative attention began to be paid 
to labor relations of supporting staff during 
the sixties. Before 1 950, there were 
numerous civil servants' organizations 
throughout the country. The most active 
was the Amalgamated Civil Servants, of 
which John Downs was National President 
for a time. In the mid-fifties, the 
Amalgamated Civil Servants joined with the 
Civil Service Association of Ottawa to form 
the Civil Service Association of Canada 

Two major changes occurred in 1 966. 
First, every position description was 
rewritten and government assumed the 
responsibility of classifying the positions. 
Secondly, collective bargaining, including 
the right to strike, was instituted. All civil 
servants, except letter carriers and 
members of the Professional Institute of the 
Public Service of Canada united to form 
the Public Service Alliance of Canada 

Each department of government had its 
union, which was part of PSAC and 
handled grievances and information at the 
departmental level. Thus, Research Station 
support staff belonged to the Agricultural 
Union of PSAC. Union activity resulted, on 
March 10, 1975, in picket lines being 
thrown up at the entrances to the 
Lethbridge Research Station-for the first 
time in its history. Picketing lasted only 1 
day. Picketers were members of the 
General Labor and Trades group of PSAC, 
then in conflict with Treasury Board over 

Research began during the sixties on 
water weeds, which had long been a 
problem in irrigation reservoirs and 

systems and in recreational lakes. Four 
kinds of weeds were of concern: 
submerged weeds, represented by 
Richardson's pondweed, Sago pondweed, 
small-leaved pondweed, green water milfoil, 
northern water milfoil, and Canada water 
weed; emergent weeds, represented by 
cattails and rushes; floating-leaved weeds, 
represented by the yellow water lily; and 
free-floating weeds, represented by 
bladderwort, coontail, and duckweed. In 
response to a resolution by the Canada 
Weed Committee that the Research Branch 
give highest priority to the hiring of an 
aquatic weed biologist Dr. J. R. Allan was 
appointed in 1965. 

Results of rangeland studies were based 
on work done at the Livestock and Range 
Research Substation (Manyberries), 
Onefour, Alta., and the Range Research 
Substation, Stavely, Alta. Results of a 
cattle-grazing study at Stavely and a 
sheep-grazing study at Onefour were used 
to prepare guides to range conditions; 
Alberta Department of Lands and Forests 
administrators J. A. Campbell, L. M. 
Forbes, and R. A. Wroe were involved in 
the work. Mr. Forbes worked with Messrs. 
Smoliak and Johnston in surveying and 
setting aside 1 6 relict grassland areas 
(grasslands in a relatively undisturbed 
state) for study by naturalists, ecologists. 
and land administrators under the 
International Biological Programme. Dr. J. 
F. Dormaar cooperated in studies of soils 
of grazed fields at both Stavely and 
Onefour. Results of these studies, and 
other studies involving the invasion of 
Fescue Grassland areas by poplar and 
willow trees, showed that soil profile 
changes took place in nature much more 
rapidly than was formerly believed by soil 
scientists. By the end of the decade. 
Alberta's range management literature 
compared favorably with that from any 
other part of western North America. 

Some of the earliest grazing studies with 
Russian wild ryegrass were conducted at 
Onefour by Mr. Smoliak. His results 
showed that Russian wild ryegrass pasture 
produced from three to six times as much 
animal gain as adjoining native range and. 
hence, his data had a great influence on 
the conversion of rangeland to cultivated 
hay or pastureland. 


The naming of a variety or cultivar was a 
welcome task to a plant breeder, as it 
represented the final step in the 
development program. Considerable 
thought went into the naming of cultivars 
developed at Lethbridge. Usually, the plant 
breeder looked for a word or words that 
were easy to spell and pronounce, 
contained one or two syllables, were 
meaningful, and had no pornographic 
connotations. Dr. M. R. Hanna was 
involved in the naming of Trek alfalfa after 
the North-West Mounted Police trek west 
in 1874; Kane alfalfa, after Paul Kane, 
noted Canadian artist; and Melrose 
sainfoin, after Melfort, Sask., where Russian 
sainfoin was first introduced, and rose, the 
color of the flower. Dr. J. B. Lebeau named 
Banff Kentucky bluegrass after the Banff 
Springs Hotel golf course, from which he 
obtained the original selection. R. W. 
Peake named Beaver alfalfa after the 
animal that symbolizes Canada; Chinook 
orchardgrass, after southern Alberta's 
famed warm, westerly wind; and Greenleaf 
pubescent wheatgrass, a descriptive name. 
Messrs. Smoliak and Johnston named 
Oxley cicer milkvetch after the Oxley 
Ranche Ltd., which was located in the 
Porcupine Hills of southwestern Alberta 
during the period from 1885 to 1915. Mr. 
Smoliak named Cabree Russian wild 
ryegrass, after the French Canadian 
hunter's name for the prong-horned 
antelope. Dr. Hugh McKenzie named 
Chinook spring wheat after the Chinook 
wind or region, and Cypress spring wheat 
after the Cypress Hills, which are located in 
its center of adaptation. In 1 976, he 
received a licence for a spring wheat 
cultivar he called Chester, after Herbert 
Chester, third Superintendent of the 
Lethbridge Experimental Station. Dr. Mark 
N. Grant was involved in the naming of 
Winalta winter wheat, which was developed 
by Dr. J. E. Andrews; the name is a 
contraction of 'a winter wheat for Alberta'. 
Dr. Grant also named Sundance winter 
wheat, from the summer religious festival of 
the Plains Indians. In 1976, Dr. Grant was 
ready to release a winter wheat variety, 
Norstar, so named because its use was 
expected to extend northward the winter 
wheat growing region of Western Canada. 
Dr. S. A. Wells developed and named Gait 
barley, after the family whose enterprises 
opened up southern Alberta in 1 880 to 
1912; Hector barley, after Sir James Hector 
of the Palliser Expedition; Palliser barley, 
after Sir John Palliser, leader of the Palliser 
Expedition of 1 857 to 1 860; and Fairfield 

barley, after Dr. W. H. Fairfield. 

The horticulturists sometimes selected 
longer names. For example, Dr. I. L. 
Nonnecke developed a number of 
chrysanthemum cultivars and used a 
mixture of Indian and historical names: 
Aceena, Ahnasti, Akimina, Colonel Macleod, 
Colonel Mewburn, Dr. Fairfield, Enee, 
Father Lacombe, Jerry Potts, Kainai, 
Kishinena, Kokanee, Kootenai, Mayor 
Magrath, Metis, Moeis, Nootka, Peigan, 
Sarcee, and Waterton. Apple varieties were 
named Dr. Bill after Dr. W. H. Fairfield, and 
Leth after Lethbridge. Dr. W. E. Torfason 
named a potato cultivar Chinook, after the 
wind. Dr. G. A. Kemp used a series of 
descriptive names: Early Lethbridge, 
Earlinorth, and Earlicrop tomatoes, and 
Earligold muskmelon. Also, he named a 
bean cultivar Limelight, the name being a 
more acceptable version of 'Lima-like' 
because the seed resembled a lima bean 
in size and shape. A later cultivar was 
named Green Limelight since the seeds 
were green. 

In animal science, an all-concentrate 
cattle diet was examined by researcher Dr. 
R. Hironaka in the early sixties, but only in 
1969 did the feeding of an all-concentrate 
diet become successful. The feeding of 
crossbred steers to examine the growth 
rate and feed efficiency of different crosses 
had begun in the mid-sixties. However, the 
program met a problem when budget 
restrictions forced removal of the 1 5% 
ground hay that was being incorporated 
into the feed pellets. The all-concentrate 
diet was the answer. This led to work by 
Drs. Hironaka and K.-J. Cheng on feedlot 
bloat, which was almost eliminated when 
they avoided using feed of a fine particle 
size. The problem of starting cattle on a 
high-energy diet was largely eliminated by 
use of a starter ration developed at the 
Lethbridge Research Station by Dr. 
Hironaka. The ration was adopted by the 
industry, and most feed mills had it 
available as one of their standard stock 
items. The technique of harvesting forage 
and feeding it in drylots was examined in 
the sixties, also. Although some feedlots 
adopted the practice for a short period, it 
was abandoned because of the abundance 
and low cost of grains as well as the 
amount of labor required to feed fresh 
forage in drylots. Alternative feeding 
programs were developed when it was 
shown that cattle could make 
compensatory gains after their feed had 
been restricted for part of the feeding 
period. These programs were designed to 

maximize returns, based on the feed and 
time required and the different prices 
received for the different grades of beef 
carcasses produced. Use of the computer 
to project the most profitable program and 
least-cost diets was under way at the end 
of the decade. 

It was during the sixties that Dr. R. W. 
Salt achieved world recognition for his 
work on cold hardiness in insects. His 
discovery that certain insects evidently 
produced enough glycerol to act as an 
antifreeze' captured popular and scientific 
interest. His other investigations led into 
the nature and cause of freezing and 
earned him invitations to contribute to 
various international symposia and books. 
He was invited to lecture at various 
locations, the most notable being 
Cambridge, U.K., and Michigan State 
University, U.S.A. 

Various factors combined to shape crop 
entomology research during the sixties. 
Studies of pesticide residues in crops and 
soil were begun by W. A. Charnetski and 
D. L. Struble. New or modified controls for 
33 species of insects or their relatives were 
developed for use in crops. Research 
covering life histories, behavior, and 
economic population thresholds was 
completed for some species and begun for 
others; the purpose was to improve 
controls and to determine their economics 
and the necessity for them. A permanent 
sawfly nursery was started on land owned 
by the Animal Diseases Research Institute 
(Western) so that a sawfly population could 
be maintained for use in studies of the 
insect and for testing lines of wheat for 
sawfly resistance. To meet the need for 
uniform recommendations on crop pest 
control and to provide more liaison among 
prairie stations and other agencies, Dr. N. 
D. Holmes formed the Western Committee 
on Crop Pesticides. The committee 
flourished and soon included 
representatives from British Columbia as 
well as the Prairie Provinces. In 1976, a 
similar committee on crop diseases was 
founded, largely through the efforts of Drs. 
T. G. Atkinson and F. R. Harper. 


Dr. Gordon A. Hobbs and his co-workers 
attempted for a decade to protect 
populations of native leafcutter bees in 
their nesting sites and to encourage them 
to pollinate alfalfa fields for seed 
production. Their lack of success made 
them realize that they had to domesticate a 
bee species in order to manipulate its 
population. This they set out to do when 
they imported Megachile pacifica, a 
leafcutter bee that was gregarious and 
would live in man-made dwellings. By 
1 964, the group had done the experiments 
that allowed them to provide the necessary 
protection against weather and insect 
pests. Thus, they achieved one of their 
objectives, the domestication of a leafcutter 
bee for the pollination of alfalfa. 

In 1968, Dr. Hobbs won the Merit Award 
of the Public Service of Canada for his 

In 1 969, Dr. Anstey was transferred to 
Ottawa and became Assistant Director- 
General (Western) of the Research Branch. 
At Lethbridge, he accomplished a smooth, 
trouble-free transition at the time of 
amalgamation, a task that was not nearly 
as easy as he made it appear. And he 
brought the western research stations, and 
especially the Lethbridge Research Station, 
into the computer age. 

Dr. J. E. Andrews returned to Lethbridge 
as Director in 1 969. He was a native of 
Selkirk, Man., and had served with the 

Royal Canadian Air Force from 1 942 to 
1 945. His research career began at the 
Winnipeg Research Station in 1 949, and he 
was transferred to the Lethbridge 
Experimental Station in 1951 as a cerealist, 
remaining there until 1959. His major 
research contributions at Lethbridge were 
the development of Winalta, a widely grown 
winter wheat, and the development of 
laboratory techniques for assessing 
hardiness in winter wheat. From 1 959 to 
1 965, Dr. Andrews was Director of the 
Research Station at Brandon, and from 
1965 to 1969, he was Director of the 
Station at Swift Current. 

The Swift Current Station had completed 
a major building program in 1 965 and, at 
Lethbridge, Dr. Andrews found himself in 
the midst of an even larger one. At various 
times, he discussed the need for modern 
research facilities with the publisher of The 
Lethbridge Herald, the Mayor, officials of 
Treasury Board, local Members of 
Parliament, and the federal Minister of 
Agriculture. These men all recognized the 
need for modern facilities to carry out 
appropriate agricultural research. There is 
no question but that their support helped to 
obtain a new office-laboratory complex for 
the Lethbridge Research Station. 

The need for such an office- laboratory 
complex had been apparent for many 
years. In December 1965, Dr. Anstey 
discussed the prospects for a new building 

for the Research Station and concluded 
that it could not be expected for several 
years. But by November 1 966, Dr. R. A. 
Ludwig, Acting Director of Administration 
for the Research Branch at Ottawa visited 
the Station and discussed the preparations 
that had to be made for the proposed new 
building. By February 1968, town planners 
of the Oldman River Regional Planning 
Commission had been brought into the 
picture and had clarified municipal 
requirements. In August 1 968, Underwood 
McLellan & Associates Ltd., Calgary, were 
appointed planning consultants for the new 
building and the federal Department of 
Public Works delegated R. E. Mayne to 
work with them. Also, R. W. Peake was 
appointed Station liaison representative in 
the planning program. By May 1 969, 
serious thought was being given to a 
suitable site; Mr. Peake favored a location 
off No. 3 highway, just west of the old 
dryland orchard. Instructions were received 
from Ottawa that a location at the 
University of Lethbridge was not even to be 
considered. Eventually, a site just west of 
the existing building area was selected. A 
preliminary planning report was completed 
in June and was considered by the 
Executive Committee. After years of 
rumors and false starts, it looked as if a 
new building was finally to be constructed. 


Chapter 13. The Seventies 

As current agricultural problems of the 
region were solved, investigators moved on 
to new problems. Each solution raised new 
questions, which tended to be more difficult 
than the old. Frequently, their solution 
required more intensive specialization, 
more teamwork, and more sophisticated 
equipment. And this, in turn, meant that 
more coordination of research and a bigger 
administrative superstructure were needed 
to serve the scientists and, indirectly, 

In 1968, Dr. B. B. Migicovsky, Director- 
General, committed the Research Branch 
to a planned program with stated goals and 
objectives. Commonly used in business 
administration, this was management by 
objectives'. The process is one where the 
superior and subordinate managers of an 
organization jointly identify its common 
goals, define each individual's main areas 
of responsibility in terms of the results 
expected, and use those measures as 
guides for operating a unit and assessing 
the contribution of each of its members. 
Lethbridge was selected as one of several 

Stations where the program was to go into 
effect and was the first to implement it fully. 

An annual critical review was held in the 
fall to look at program results and projected 
plans. Program review' was an integral 
part of management by objectives. Its 
purpose was to measure results against 
goals in order to improve performance. 
Each project report was considered and 
progress toward a particular goal was 
discussed. There followed a critical 
appraisal of the program report, which was 
prepared beforehand by a program leader, 
its revision, and, finally, its acceptance. 
Future plans were discussed and 
justification was demanded for requests for 
additional staff, equipment, or funds. If 
accepted, these plans were incorporated 
into the program report and became an 
official recommendation of the Lethbridge 
Research Station. 

A Research Branch goal under 
management by objectives was To 
improve physical facilities by implementing 
a continuously updated construction 
program to provide, by 1 975, suitable 

Participants in an unofficial sod-turning 
ceremony, October 16, 1974. From left to 
right: S. B. Arnason, Dr. J. E. Andrews, L. C. 
McLaughlin, and E. W. Thurston. 


laboratory and related research facilities at 
all establishments'. 

This goal struck a responsive chord at 
Lethbridge because, for 20 years, scientists 
there had worked in modest laboratories, 
often widely separated from each other. 
There had been rumors of a new main 
building, notably in the late fifties, but these 
had come to naught. But, by 1 970, a new 
office- laboratory complex gave every 
indication of becoming a reality. 

In January 1971, word was received from 
Ottawa that the new laboratory for 
Lethbridge was assigned highest priority in 
the Department of Agriculture's 
construction estimates for 1971 -72. 
Immediately, Station staff were asked to list 
their requirements and to be prepared to 
document their needs by sections. 

In August 1971, Dr. J. E. Andrews, 
Director, wrote letters to C. J. McAndrews, 
Director, Extension and Colleges Division, 
and J. G. Calpas, Regional Director, 
Extension Division, Alberta Agriculture, to 
determine their interest in having Alberta 
extension staff move into offices in the new 
building. They acknowledged his letters but 
replied that they could not make a 
commitment at that time. Negotiations 
continued and, eventually, an agreement 
was reached with the department to 
construct a provincial wing to house 
extension and other staff. Its cost was 
estimated at $2.0 million, bringing the total 
cost of the new office-laboratory complex 
to about $10.0 million. 

By February 1 974, the estimated cost of 
the new office-laboratory complex had 
increased by about $2.0 million. With 
previous increases, this brought the cost to 
about $14.5 million, requiring further 
Treasury Board approval. The additional 
money was requested and approved in 

On April 11,1 974, Western Industrial 
Contractors Limited, the contractor for the 
sewage and water facilities, started work on 
the Station. E. W. Thurston and Mr. L. C. 
McLaughlin were named by the Station to 
provide liaison with the contractors and the 
supervisory engineering firm. Mr. 
McLaughlin had been recruited from the 
Swift Current Research Station where he 
had gained much experience in working 
with contractors. 

Tenders for the main building finally were 
called on July 26 and were reviewed on 
July 29-30. Three tenders were received, 
from Poole Construction Limited, 
Foundation Company of Canada Limited, 
and Cana Construction Company Limited. 

The successful bidder was Poole 
Construction with a tender of $22,197,173. 
This was a shock to all officials, who had 
hoped for a tender of about $14.7 million 
but thought it might be as high as $17.0 
million. There was some delay while 
Ottawa officials considered the Poole 
Construction tender and made 
arrangements for the additional funds. By 
September, details had been ironed out 
and, on October 3, 1 974, Poole 
Construction started to deliver concrete 
forms to the site. On October 1 6, Mr. 
McLaughlin organized an unofficial sod- 
turning ceremony involving Dr. Andrews, 
Mr. Thurston, S. B. Arnason, and himself. 
Dr. Andrews ran an earthmover and 
stripped the first sod from the building site. 

In the seventies, an important part of the 
Lethbridge Research Station's work was 
participation in the All-India Coordinated 
Research Project for Dryland Agriculture. 
Scientists who were involved in the project 
from Lethbridge included Dr. Andrews, the 
Canadian Director; Dr. W. L. Pelton, 
formerly with the Swift Current Research 
Station and first Canadian Joint 
Coordinator of the India project; D. T. 
Anderson, agricultural engineer; and Dr. S. 
Freyman, plant physiologist. In February 
1976, Agriculture Minister Eugene Whelan 
presented to Dr. Andrews the Public 
Service Merit Award for '. . . exceptional 
and distinguished service in relation to the 
Dryland Project in India'. 

The broader scope of Station activities in 
the seventies was indicated by its 
committees, on one or another of which 
nearly every scientist served. The most 
important was the Executive Committee, 
which ran the Research Station. In the mid- 
seventies, it was made up of Dr. Andrews, 
Director; Dr. Pelton, assistant director; Mr. 
Arnason, administrative officer; and section 
heads Drs. D. B. Wilson for plant science, 
E. E. Swierstra for animal science, N. D. 
Holmes for crop entomology, W. O. Haufe 
for veterinary-medical entomology, D. C. 
MacKay for soil science, and J. B. Lebeau 
for plant pathology. Other committees were 
the canteen committee; chemical 
committee; committee to produce Coffee 
Table News; controlled temperature room 
committee; field plot committee; fire control 
committee; greenhouse and growth 
chamber committee, renamed in 1 975 the 
phytotron committee; land use committee; 
library committee; manure committee, an 
ad hoc committee to advise on the storage, 
use, and disposal of animal wastes: pasture 
committee; radioisotope committee; remote 

sensing committee; safety committee; 
seminar committee; silage committee; slide 
library committee; social committee; 
statistics committee; toxic chemicals 
committee; and Whoop-up Compound 
committee, a committee to set up an 
annual outdoor display at the Lethbridge 
Exhibition. The Executive Committee once 
considered setting up a committee to study 
the need for additional committees! In the 
mid-seventies, many of the committees 
spent much time planning the move to new 

P. H. Walker, Station editor, retired in 
1972 and was succeeded by G. C. R. 
Croome, a professional forester from 
Fredericton, N.B. The Lethbridge Station 
was the only Station or Institute in the 
Research Branch with a full-time editor. 
The first Station editor was Dr. W. C. 
Broadfoot, who assumed the responsibility 
as one of his duties after amalgamation in 
1 959. When Dr. Broadfoot contemplated 
retirement in 1963, Mr. Walker, a member 
of the Soil Science and Field Husbandry 
sections since 1 933, became Station editor. 

The number of research papers written 
by the staff of the various institutions that 
made up the Lethbridge Research Station 
conformed to a typical growth curve. There 
was a period of slow, initial growth, which 
lasted from 1 906 to about 1 946; a period of 
rapid growth, with the fastest rate in the 
middle years, which lasted from about 1946 
to 1 960; then a period of fluctuation, which 
lasted from 1 969 to 1 976, when an 
average of 80 papers a year were 
published. The long period of slow growth 
in the early years occurred mainly because 
Ottawa officials in both the Experimental 
Farms Service and the Science Service 
actively discouraged scientific writing. Most 
papers were written during the winter 
months and were submitted to the Station 
editor in March and April. The fewest 
papers were submitted in August and 
September. Of the papers, roughly two- 
thirds were published in Canadian journals 
and one-third in American ones. 

Other support services included the 
information officer, P. E. Blakeley; the 
biometrician, G. C. Kozub: and the 
librarians, headed by J. P. Miska. 


Number of publications 










A j 


in years 




Although bilingualism became official 
government policy in the sixties, the only 
person on the Station to make a 
conscientious effort to learn French was 
Dr. Ruby I. Larson. She took 6-week 
courses at the University of Montreal in 
1969 and 1971 as well as various courses 
in French literature at the University of 
Lethbridge. Dr. J. F. Dormaar spent 1970 
at the Centre de Pedologie biologique, 
Centre national de la Recherche 
scientifique, Nancy, France, on a 
postdoctorate fellowship and greatly 
improved his French there. In 1975, about 
26 scientists expressed interest in learning 
French. Instructors were provided and 
courses were established so that 
participants could attain whatever level of 
proficiency they desired. 

Efforts to add economists to the staff of 
the Research Station began in 1 967 when 
V. J. Miles was seconded to Lethbridge from 
the Economics Branch. He soon resigned 
to accept a foreign assignment and was 
replaced by B. H. Sonntag. Mr. Sonntag 
left almost immediately to obtain his Ph.D. 
degree. In 1 970, he returned to set up the 
Economics Section, which, in 1 976, was 
staffed by Dr. Sonntag and three 

Severe drought and soil drifting were 
thought to be characteristic of the thirties. 
But soil drifting occurred in the late forties 

and early fifties and drought as severe as 
that of the thirties occurred again in the 
early sixties and early seventies. Because 
of the development of herbicides that were 
useful for weed control on summerfallow 
and in seedbed preparation, minimum and 
zero tillage techniques were studied by D. 
T. Anderson of the Soil Science Section. 
The idea was that elimination of most, or 
all, tillage operations would increase the 
amount of residue on the surface and 
never expose bare soil to wind erosion. 
The zero tillage or minimum tillage 
techniques had tremendous potential for 
saving energy, which was of great concern 
in the seventies. Included in the study were 
evaluations of erosion control, moisture 
conservation, weed control, and various 
combinations of mechanical and chemical 
tillage. Chemical and physical changes in 
the soil as a result of minimum or zero 
tillage were studied also. Zero tillage 
(chemical fallow) gave better moisture 
conservation than mechanically prepared 
fallow and increased yields of wheat crops 
over the following 5 years. However, in 
most years, one tillage operation improved 
yields further, presumably because it 
prevented the slight depression in nitrate- 
nitrogen levels that occurred with chemical 
fallow only. 

Problems of salinity (alkali) and drainage 
troubled researchers during the seventies- 

Actual and calculated curves to show the 
number of publications issued by the various 
institutions that made up the Lethbridge 
Research Station, 1906-1974. 


Artist's conception of the new office- 
laboratory complex at Lethbridge. 

problems that began when the first sod 
was broken and the first water was turned 
into the canals. Before 1 940, salinity was 
only a minor problem throughout the region 
but, by 1975, an estimated 101 250 ha 
(250,000 acres) of dry land and 40 500 ha 
(100,000 acres) of irrigated land had 
become salinized. Observations of aerial 
photographs indicated that the area 
affected was increasing at an accelerated 
rate. Management techniques were 
developed to alleviate the problem. 

Projects involving the crossbreeding of 
beef cattle were an important part of 
Animal Science studies in the seventies 
and earlier. In 1 965, a cooperative research 
project was set up between rancher Bryce 
C. Stringam and the Lethbridge Research 
Station. Drs. S. B. Slen and H. F. Peters 
planned the project and Mr. Stringam 
provided the land and cattle at his Three 
Walking Sticks Ranch, north of Duchess. 

The program was discontinued in 1969 
and canceled after the last calves were fed 
out in 1 970. There were a number of 
problems, the most important one being 
that Mr. Stringam lost money and felt that 
he was subsidizing a costly research 

Still another project, on foreign breed 
evaluation, was started in 1 968 to evaluate 
the reproductive performance of hybrid 
heifers produced by mating Charolais, 
Limousin, and Simmental bulls to Angus, 
Hereford, and Shorthorn cows. The project 
continued through successive generations 
of hybrids. 

Studies on urinary calculi in range cattle 
began at Lethbridge under Dr. Frank 
Whiting in 1 949 and were expanded after a 
severe outbreak of the condition in the fall 
of 1953. The calculi were shown to be 

composed of amorphous silica and minor 
amounts of oxalate, carbonate, and organic 
matter. L. M. Bezeau found that range 
grasses had a high silica content, which 
increased as the grasses matured. Dr. C. 
B. (Peter) Bailey studied the metabolism of 
plant silica consumed by cattle. He found 
that the output of urine in cattle fed on 
range grasses was low and the 
concentration of silicic acid in the urine 
was high. In such urine, silicic acid 
molecules joined together in increasing 
numbers until they formed aggregates and 
came out of solution. These aggregates 
formed the substance of the calculi. In 
1975, Dr. Bailey suggested a solution: 
range calves should be given a supplement 
containing large amounts of salt which 
would increase their water intake and urine 
flow and reduce the concentration of silicic 
acid in the urine. 

Winterhardiness was of constant 
concern to researchers because crops of 
the region had to be grown in spite of long, 
cold winters and spring and fall frosts. 
During the seventies, a number of 
scientists worked on cold hardiness. These 
included Drs. D. W. A. Roberts, M. D. 
MacDonald, J. B. Lebeau, M. R. Hanna E. 
J. Hawn, M. N. Grant, and S. Freyman, and 
Messrs. U. J. Pittman and S. Smoliak. 

The Plant Pathology Section was 
concerned with diseases of cereal crops, 
forage crops, and specialty crops. In 
cereals, common root rot was a disease of 
major economic importance. An obvious 
method of control was to develop varieties 
resistant to the disease, but progress was 
slow. In work unrelated to root rot 
resistance, Drs. Ruby I. Larson and M. D. 
MacDonald produced monosomies and 
other aneuploids in solid-stemmed wheat 


varieties, and whole-chromosome 
substitution lines between them and 
hollow-stemmed varieties. Dr. M. N. Grant 
suggested that such monosomic and 
nullisomic lines could be used to study 
inheritance of root rot resistance. Dr. T. G. 
Atkinson developed better tests for 
determining plant reactions to root rot in 
the growth chamber or greenhouse. 
Working with Dr. Hugh McKenzie, Dr. 
Atkinson found that the reaction to root rot 
was not associated with the characteristic 
of stem solidness, which largely governs 
sawfly resistance. Drs. Larson and 
Atkinson studied substitution lines involving 
crosses between solid-stemmed, root-rot- 
susceptible wheat varieties, and hollow- 
stemmed, root-rot-resistant wheat varieties. 
They found that chromosome 5B contained 
the main genes governing root rot reaction. 
Their conclusion was that there should be 
no difficulty in incorporating root rot 
resistance in sawfly-resistant wheats. 
Chester wheat, produced in 1 975, was 
sawfly resistant and had better resistance 
to root rot. 

A cooperative project on black flies, 
involving federal and provincial scientists, 
was conducted during the early seventies. 
The black fly, which develops in mountain- 
fed rivers, was only a nuisance to humans 
but was sometimes fatal to livestock. 
Animals introduced into the black fly area 
were particularly susceptible as it took time 
to develop a tolerance for the fly. K. R. 
Depner began studies on the biology of the 
fly, and Dr. M. A. Khan attempted to control 
the insect by chemical means as it 
attacked the cattle. Mr. Depner and Dr. W. 
A. Charnetski, with associates from the 
provincial departments of Agriculture and 
Environment, the Fish and Game Branch, 
and the Alberta Research Council, 
undertook studies on chemical control of 
the insect in the river. J. A. Shemanchuk 
studied population dynamics of the pest 
and tagged black flies with a fluorescent 
dye to establish their range of activity. 

The study of sex attractants in insects 
was an important part of crop entomology 
research in the seventies. In 1958, C. E. 
Lilly, assisted by technician W. L. Pelham, 
started laboratory and field studies on 
insect sex attractants. Working with click 
beetles, the adult of the wireworm, sex 
pheromones were discovered in extracts of 
virgin females from five species, 
representing three genera. Detailed 
laboratory investigations on the response 
of adult males of the sugarbeet wireworm 
to the female sex pheromone were carried 

out and, in cooperation with Dr. Martin 
Jacobson, a chemist from the United States 
Department of Agriculture, the pheromone 
was isolated and identified as valeric acid. 

After 1 970, the attractant studies were 
expanded into an extensive program 
embracing pheromones and attractants of 
moths. Dr. D. L. Struble, an organic 
chemist, joined the program to handle the 
analytical aspects of the research, and to 
participate in laboratory and field bioassays 
in cooperation with scientists Dr. G. E. 
Swailes, L. A. Jacobson, and Mr. Lilly. Dr. 
Struble identified and synthesized the 
chemicals involved. Field testing of about 
80 synthetic chemicals provided good 
leads to synthetic attractants for about 1 5 
major species of moths; about 40 other 
species were attracted to some degree. 
Sex pheromones were discovered in 
females or synthetic attractants determined 
for males of several common species: the 
redbacked cutworm, clover cutworm, 
bertha armyworm, beet webworm, and 
forest tent caterpillar. Trapping methods 
were developed for the clover cutworm and 
the beet webworm. 

In the mid-seventies, attention began to 
be focused on remote sensing, the term 
used to describe airborne and satellite 
imagery. Aerial cameras and films were 
improved and various scanning devices 
were in use in orbiting earth satellites. Dr. 
T. G. Atkinson used remote sensing data to 
determine the area of winter wheat crops; 
Dr. T. G. Sommerfeldt was involved with 
remote sensing in relation to salinity 
studies; and Mr. U. J. Pittman in relation to 
the growth and area of spring wheat crops. 

Throughout its history, the Station has 
been fairly free from scandal, but has not 
escaped it entirely. There were rumored 
improprieties involving equipment and 
facilities in the period before World War II, 
mysterious happenings in the early fifties 
about which I have been unable to obtain 
details, an inquiry into feed supplies in the 
late sixties, and occasional sexual 
peccadilloes that usually (but not always) 
resulted in the female partner being 
disciplined. Cars and trucks have been 
involved in accidents at least since the 
thirties, when Dr. Fairfield had a bee fly in 
through a wide-open side-vent window and 
sting him on the back. In the ensuing 
confusion, his car hit the ditch and turned 
over. There has never been a fatal 
accident involving Station staff on duty, a 
remarkable record because the Station 
owned 75 vehicles and personnel drove 
about 804 500 km (500,000 miles) in 1976. 

A speed limit of 88 km/h, or 55 miles per 
hour, imposed on federal government 
vehicles in May 1 975 helped to perpetuate 
the record. With a staff of 300, there were 
usually a few alcoholics to cause 
administrative headaches, but the condition 
was looked upon as a disease and treated 

The unsung heroes of the Lethbridge 
Research Station have been the 
stenographers, accountants, librarians, 
casual and temporary employees- 
supporting staff, generally— without whom 
the Station could not function. In 1 976, 
there were about 230 of them, and there 
was an annual turnover of about 1 0%. As a 
result, it is impossible to name or describe 
the work of more than a few. They were 
the ones who maintained the grounds, 
looked after the cattle, ran the tractors, 
typed the manuscripts, and performed the 
physical work of the Station. Their duties 
were sometimes arduous, often tedious, but 
always important. 

The Lethbridge Research Station of 
1 976 bore little resemblance to the 
Dominion Experimental Station of 1 906. In 
1906, the staff consisted of W. H. Fairfield, 
Superintendent, and half a dozen 
employees. In 1976, the staff comprised Dr. 
J. E. Andrews, Director, and about 300 
professional and supporting employees. 
The aim of the Station, to serve agriculture, 
had not changed. And Dr. J. H. Grisdale's 
comment, that 'Our work falls naturally into 
two great divisions: first, the accumulation 
of data by careful experiments; and, 
second, the making of our results known', 
was as applicable in 1 976 as it was in 



Alex Johnston